License Approval Request: Open Innovation License (OPNL and OPNL-2.0)

Hi, I would like to submit a new license for approval.

OPNL (Open Innovation License):

OPNL-2.0 (Open Innovation License v2):

License Rationale
I wanted to release this license for a variety of different reasons. Infact, I made many posts in regards to why this license is unique and valuable, and found many developers willing to adapt this license through small innovation challenges. The license was made on the basis of promoting a mission statement on ethical technology within the license as well as not being specific to only software i.e. files, diagrams, data format or any other innovation.

We also wanted to make sure that the license is adaptable. Many open source licenses require you to put tons of header files for compliance. We wanted to make a license that just requires you to contain the license file in your directory. While many other open source licenses also do that or follow in similar footsteps, we weren’t able to find one that met all these unique qualities.

Explain whether the license may be used by any licensor, or is specific to an organization/place/jurisdiction.
Both licenses can be used by any person or organization. The second license tries to achieve the same thing as the first license, but has the mission statement in the preamble (with slight rewording). I have talked to a variety of different people about this. Many people within open source organizations and boards have liked this. However, there are some people who argued against it.

The primary arguments against it were if the first version has a morally restrictive clause or not. My argument for the first version is that since people agree at goodwill, this isn’t really very restrictive given people have their own have free will to make rational decisions. Then their came arguments about communist China and whether this is restrictive to amish people, and logical paradoxes, and I had anxiety talking back and forth w/ some members of the software community.

Anyways, I made a second variation that specifically specified my organization’s agreement to the same mission statement and then went out to specify terms on free redistribution. Then some people still had a problem with it and argued whether or not this is me restricting myself, and there were tons of logical paradoxes back and forth. The arguments I have heard thus far about the license are minimal outside of some small forums or groups. An overwhelming majority of people I reached out to, including through hackathons, university innovation challenges, blogs, and research programs all liked the license and thus far over 57 teams adapted usage of it. I think within a year or so, it is possible to have this in over 1000 open source projects.

I also like the idea of how this supports a wide redistribution range of things from data, to published work, to images, to software, etc. This is less common in OKF compliant and open data licenses.

4. Compare and contrast to the most similar approved as OD-conformant licenses
5. Explain the benefit the new license brings over already approved OD-conformant licenses which would outweigh the costs of license proliferation?

The main difference is that mine supports a wide range of tech and data. Also, my mission statement is unique, and I believe you can put a mission statement in an open source license and still be compliant w/ OFK standards as long as it isn’t discriminatory or directly preventing one’s endeavors. Many companies that go against the Right to Repair Act, go out of their way to prevent fair usage, and do severely unethical things are hailed as heroes of open source. This is a huge problem w/ big tech. While, this doesn’t stop that from happening and an evil person can still use this license and technically be compliant with it, the license promotes certain ethical ideas or the importance of talking about ethics in tech while still preserving the integrity of the definition of open source and open data.

6. Provide a link to any public drafting process (e.g., conducted on a public communication forum of some sort; multiple drafts presented to that forum) for the license.
In regards to public discussion, here is the GitHub draft history:

Here are some articles:

Hi, I lurk on the OSI lists and am not thrilled with this forum shopping. That said I haven’t more than skimmed those threads due to their volume, and I have a few questions off the top of my head.

Which license are you submitting? I see two, though you use “license” singular.

Is there any publicly verifiable documentation of these uses?

What is a “data format” and what is an “innovation”? These terms aren’t used to enumerate licensed subject matter in any license cataloged by SPDX. Though you obviously have some idea as to what the intended scope of these licenses, I’m not sure I know what that is, nor that a potential licensor or licensee could know.

I gather that you intend the manifesto bits to not limit the license grant (if they did, they’d not conform with non-discrimination or application to any purpose criteria) though from skimming the OSI discussion, it’s not unambiguous to me that you’ve achieved this. IMO the OD group should absolutely not be innovating on approval of such terms – a major point of using an open license is to be able to use data (or other licensed material) with confidence.

I’m sure you’ll respond at great length! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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Hi, I am submitting both licenses.

The term data format is very board. It could mean literally any format of data such as file formats, forms of writing, data transcribes, data transmission, etc. I feel like the general broadness of this term is actually intriguing. I do dabble in Qubit based processing and there are lots of new formats of data structures that researchers are making for the software of the future. I like the idea of having terms that still cover free distribution and are broad in regards to what they can apply to. This means applicable now, and applicable to technology in the future. I have a well thought-out reason for everything I do.

The “manifesto bit” though I prefer preamble or mission statement doesn’t limit the license grant. I pointed out even how an evil person could by technicality be conforming to the license(s):

Even one of the responses after I withdrew was:
My fear is that the problem isn’t with the terms of your license. The
problem is that what you want to do is against the goals of the Open
Source Initiative. What you want to do, we consider unethical.

You can see the whole thread for yourself on the OSI list. Their believe is that it isn’t about whether or not now the terms are conformant, it is more whether or not my goals may not align with theirs. I believe that the whole indication of what is open source or on the distribution of open source shouldn’t be centralized on decisions made by a small amount of board members. I feel like if they go outside the boundary of terms, and more of the intent of the person, then that is a slippery slope. They can be like this guy is now x political party, we don’t agree with him, so now his intent might be bad though his terms license is okay. I believe the rationality of the general OSI consensus at least makes some room for censorship.

Like I said, the terms of this license allow and conform to everything within the standards of the definition of open source. Even the first one with emphasis “at good will”. Few people are bound to get heavily uncomfortable, just with the basis of this guy wants to have a non traditional statement in his license. They don’t have to use it, but they also don’t have to dictate other people’s adaption of it if it falls within the standards of open source.

A big part of the reason of this license was that many people in big tech companies go against the Right to Repair Act, fair use, and privacy rights. Some of these same companies are even being hailed as heroes of open source. This license doesn’t stop them and they can still be entirely evil and conformant to all the terms in this license. However, this license does allow for the the ideas of ethics and prosperous innovation to at least be talked about more in the tech world. This in my opinion isn’t a limiting thing. It is a freedom promoting and good thing.

I don’t think that the OSI understands that by their same standards and the way they are handling this, this allows for hypocrisy on when the standards can be applied and when they can’t. This also allows for lots of happy open source developers getting some bills in their back pockets by these supposed heroes of open source, to always look the other direction when companies do things against the primary principles of open source. Outside of these principles, if we end up ultimately creating technology that destroy ourselves, we no longer have open source or any technology for that matter.

Edit: In regards to documentation evidence, I am willing to provide the documentation you are asking for on adoption, but let us cover the first topic which is primary as first things first for sake of simplicity.

As a participant on the OKF forum, I add my strong rejection for the proposed licenses denoted OPNL and OPNL‑2.0 for the following reasons:

  1. Computer programs, databases, written material in general, and other forms of literary works under copyright each have specific requirements under international conventions and a multitude of national laws. Software patents apply in some jurisdictions. Database rights apply in some jurisdictions. Non‑transferable moral rights apply in some jurisdictions. These various legal permutations must be covered with sufficient precision. OPNL and OPNL‑2.0 do not remotely achieve the level of discrimination and sophistication required to operate as successful legal instruments within this wider context.

  2. It is generally held that applying ethical considerations via public licensing is a flawed idea. Such provisions in the proposed licenses are annotated as “not legally enforceable” in any case so their presence in the license text is essentially meaningless.

I can understand that some people want simple and short license statements. But that does not work in practice, indeed it just adds to the general level of legal confusion, quite aside from offering another choice to be considered and rejected.

I can understand why some people would want to attempt to enforce ethical positions for technology through public licensing but public licenses are not the right place for that.

I would fully understand if OKF summarily rejects this application without undertaking any form of detailed analysis or providing much in the way of response.

Hi, does that mean you are against the Ethical Open Source movement? My license has a non-binding clause in it in regards to the statement and the secondary version doesn’t even require any agreement of said statement. Outside of few people in regards to losely subjective definitions of open source, many people will use this license. As I said, the premise is whether it allows for redistribution and all the things that makes open source, open source, not how one feels about the license. By that logic, you are saying OSD, or OSK has central moral authority to decide which licenses conform and which don’t in all of tech given their rather monopolized position for open source adaptation and standards.

No of course I am not against ethical considerations. Nor did I indicate so in my first posting. I simply indicated that non‑binding clauses covering ethics in public licenses are essentially worthless. But my main point was that the use and reuse permissions that the two OPNL licenses seek to provide users are also near worthless from a legal perspective.

To respond to your point about the central role of the Open Source Initiative and the Open Data Foundation, then yes, they adjudicate on the licenses that they believe meet their published criteria. And I would take a fair guess that Simon Phipps and staff at OSI will give the proposed OPNL licenses one sentence rejections. As will happen here at OKF too. Some may regard those organizations as oppressive or conceited but I don’t. Nor is anyone under any obligation to submit their newly‑minted license texts to either body for approval.

Please note that I have no influence on the deliberations of either organization. I am simply pointing out that drafting public licenses is a complex affair.

Hi. You haven’t provided much context in regards to the legal implications of having a broad range of applicable derived works. Many licenses state any derived works, and just because there are different jurisdictions for different things doesn’t mean that license isn’t applicable. For example, how you state software patents apply in some jurisdictions. If someone doesn’t openly license their patent, then the license doesn’t apply to them. I myself have software patents and proprietary tech that I wouldn’t open source. I also have tech that I would open source. That statement in regards to jurisdiction is heavily subjective. You haven’t provided a legal case study with empirical evidence to test your statement against. I obviously know there are different jurisdictions to some specific areas of IP, but I also understand that licensing terms are licensing terms. I have had legal calls in regards to this, and I will wait to see what the lawyers have to say.

Also it is to note that OSI is heavily against ethical statements in opensource licenses. This doesn’t mean something can’t have such statement and still follow the definition of open source.

Outside of this, you can criticize my work all you want without belittling it to saying so and so will probably reject it in one sentence, or they should just reject it and not entertain the possibility. There are more polite and respectful ways to criticize the work of others. That said, this is just a suggestion. It is your freedom of speech and you are free to say or do as you wish in that regard.

My statements were not meant to belittle. But I have heard Simon Phipps say several times that if one is thinking of submitting a new OSS license for approval, then don’t bother. I also know several people on the drafting committee for the GPL‑3.0 license and have some idea of the depth and complexity of those deliberations.

Moreover open source licenses do need to contain software patent grants. I didn’t see any such provisions in the proposed OPNL licenses. Not to do so therefore provides clear downstream risks. That issue alone would lead to OSI rejecting the OPNL licenses as they stand, in my opinion.

Regarding the OSD and ethical constraints, I think you might well find a conflict with the nondiscrimination on application provision. And I doubt that arguing that any ethical constraints are nonbinding would win much support.

As indicated earlier, I have no influence on the OSI or OKF. I am simply contributing some observations in the hope that they might be useful. There is not much more I can add and suggest you engage with those organizations directly instead.

Hi, it is from my understanding that if someone has software patents they want to protect, they wouldn’t release the code to that software under an open source license that calls for redistribution. That said, this license’s main intended purpose isn’t to tackle the issue of software patents. That common sense rule is generally applied to those who want to shield their code and why not every open source software license includes patent provisions. Infact, a very large percentage don’t.

Anyways I understand where you stand clearly on the topic. At least we agree to disagree.

Open licensing — whether designed for software, data en masse, or content — strives to provide users with legal certainty concerning the use and reuse of published material in order to facilitate an information commons. (Not that I am suggesting you hold views to the contrary.) These open licensing efforts are, of course, set within the framework of often imprecise international and national intellectual property law (as well as trade, contract, and tort law) — with the many legislative gray areas more likely than not to play into the hands of the various content industries and against open use. I therefore strongly favor copyright law reform as the best way of stimulating an information commons and regard open licensing within the current legal context to be clearly sub‑optimal.

Regarding software patents that might be embedded in open source contributions. Open source licenses need to traverse that exact issue. Such inclusion could be accidental but it could equally be malicious — not that I have an example of the latter at hand. But, for instance, the Open Invention Network (ONI) pools software patents and Microsoft recently joined and contributed 60 thousand such patents. The existence of the ONI and of patent pools more generally should signal to legislators that software patent law has largely failed. Another example of misguided intellectual property legislation is the 1996 European Union Database Directive 96/9/EC, whose open‑ended definitions cause no end of confusion in relation to the use and reuse of public interest information.

At the risk at being churlish, let me restate my view that poorly drafted public licenses can cause more problems than they solve. You may therefore wish to reconsider the merits of the OPNL licenses in that light? With best wishes.

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Hi, there are tons of open source licenses without software patent provisions, including the MIT license and some of the most used licenses in open source. Lots of people are looking into this right now. With all due respect, don’t insinuate that the license is poorly drafted as this isn’t your field of speciality. I looked at and analyzed hundreds of different open source licenses and pieces of software. I understand the extent in regards to what needs to be done. The Open Invention Network is a licensing committee that has an entirely different purpose. Also many licenses don’t have software patent provisions, because most people with patents who want to protect their IP don’t go and release the code to that protected software under an open source license.

There is a long running debate as to whether the MIT license contains an explicit patent grant, an implicit patent grant, or no patent grant. For instance, see the following articles by Kyle and Scott, both experienced open source lawyers based in the United States who conclude “not clear” and “explicit” respectively. That question will not be resolved unless and until a significant court in the US adjudicates.

Also worth noting that the MIT license was an early example of a permissive software license and should not remotely be regarded as a drafting benchmark by today’s standards.

Many practitioners recommend the more recent Apache‑2.0 license in preference to the MIT license precisely because it is more carefully constructed in legal terms.

On the more general question of drafting licenses and expertise, I should point out that I am not the one drafting and promoting a new public license. And of course, as a developer, I reserve to right to comment on any new proposals in an informed and considerate manner.

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You are a developer and this topic isn’t even settled with IP lawyers. My problem is that you insinuate a well understanding of the subject from a legal manner or drafting process without general experience in the field. You came to this forum immediately saying it is poorly written and should get rejected, didn’t provide enough empirical evidence and worded your responses that would suggest you drafted many licenses for a living. You could have easily politely suggested your critiques in a different manner. Just a suggestion for next time. As I said, it is your free speech and you are free to word anything as you want. This is just how to get a more productive conversation.

As you point out, my assessment is largely irrelevant. Indeed, your goal is to obtain OSI and OKF approvals for the two proposed OPNL licenses. Notwithstanding, I do have quite a lot of contact with the open source legal community, both with academics and practitioners.

Thus far, I don’t think we converged on the need to handle software patents within the proposed licenses. And we have yet to traverse two other potential shortcomings that I raised at the outset — namely the need to explicitly cover:

On the matter of obtaining OSI and OKF approvals however, the content of this thread may well be material. OKF watch this forum of course. And I will forward the URL to the OSI for their information in due course.

For the record, I don’t believe I ever implied that I have legal training or any experience in drafting public licenses. But I do have some insight into the complexities involved. And I also think I raised important issues in a constructive manner, albeit to highlight what I see as significant deficiencies.

Stepping back, I do see a need to some kind of compound open licensing, now that projects increasingly span code, data, and other forms of creative content. The question is really whether the proposed OPNL licenses can assist there or not.

Hi, I do want to point out that certain licenses like CC0-1 prohibit patent usage. This license is very generalized though on the assumption that if someone decides to release patented software code, they are allowing for redistribution of said code rather then keeping it proprietary. That said, similar to the way BSD is tackling this, we may do an OPNL+Patent license in the future, but that hasn’t been confirmed.

None of the Creative Commons licenses and waivers, including CC0‑1.0, are recommended for software. Moreover, section 4.a of CC0‑1.0 explicitly excludes a patent grant. I do not remotely understand your point therefore? Why would anyone contribute to an open source project with that kind of potential jeopardy?

Hi, I was trying to give an example of a license. I didn’t state explicitly CC0-1 is a software license. It is primarily used for web content. That said, I am not trying to tackling the issue of wanting to source software patents and this isn’t the license’s primary purpose. My main point is outside of some specific GPL compatible licenses, an overwhelming majority of licenses don’t include patent provisions unless it was an exclusion. I do believe that if one wants their code proprietary, they wouldn’t release it under a free redistribution license as this would make it harder for them to claim any sort of infringement. As stated, I may consider tackling this issue in a further version in the future, but it is lesser relevant to this discussion outside of what has primarily been discussed. Thank you however for your feedback. I also welcome reading about topics.

Best regards, Andrew

I realize you probably wish to disengage from this thread. But your last post had a number of inaccuracies that should be corrected.

The OPNL licenses expressly mention “code” so that means “computer programs” under intellectual property law and that means software patents need to be expressly traversed, one way or another. Your comment about patent provisions within software licenses is just plain wrong — almost all commonly deployed open source licenses contain patent grants (not exclusions) (while noting the earlier discussion on the status of such provisions within the MIT license). The concept of an implicit patent grant via code committed by a patent holder is considered poor practice — the whole point of public licensing is to provide community certainty and remove opportunities for later strategic behavior as far as humanly possible. Creative Commons CC0‑1.0 waivers are also widely used for data to remove the need to track the attributions that would be required under CC‑BY‑4.0.

As I mentioned, submit the OPNL licenses for approval to OSI and OKF. I would imagine that matters similar to those above will arise, but time will no doubt tell. HTH R.

The OPNL licenses mention code. My statement was “I didn’t state explicitly CC0-1 is a software license”. That said, many licenses including MIT, BSD, BSD-2 and 3, zlib, AAL, 0BSD, ISC, etc. don’t contain software patent revisions. By exclusions I meant excludes a patent grant. Maybe what I said may have been subjective, as one would need to collect data on all patent provisioned licenses in regards to permission and go back and forth. However, this isn’t the purpose of this discussion.

It is generally understood that if people want to make code proprietary, they wouldn’t release that code under a freely distributive license. I would think if they come back and try suing people for using said code, any reasonable court would likely not uphold the case as valid. Even given other potential areas a bad actor might try covering as “infringed” if it were to happen, it would be near impossible given the broad areas of licenseable technologies and creative content this covers. It would even be more difficult at that point to convince a jury.

If I believe that something is covered without a need to explicitly mention it, then explicitly mentioning it creates further confusion in regards to what was already covered. There are hundreds of different forms of IP protection. Copyright, Trademarks, and Patents are the main ones (at least categorically), but then you get into research disclosures, database rights, moral rights, first to publish databases (bioinformatics), etc. If every software licenses explicitly mentioned all provisions related to software, it would likely read like a book. That said, I may make provisionary ones in the future, though not confirmed.

Also, I believe direct license agreements, transfer agreements, and license aggregator or open patent networks directly tackle this issue more over software licenses. This is ofcourse a matter of personal opinion. Like I said, I am willing to consider a future version with a patent clause, but that has not been confirmed and this isn’t the relevant point I want to drive in regards to the two current OPNL licenses.

My turn to opt out. There is nothing more I can usefully add (unless we head into database rights and moral rights). Some people prefer licenses that cover all bases, others prefer short texts and are happy to rely on how they presume future litigation might pan out (although I am not going to speculate because I don’t know). Furthermore, I was unable to make headway on the question of MIT patent grants, despite citing two substantial sources. I hope you submit formally and gain answers.  R.