New open source licenses to respond to new needs

The world of technology advances much faster than the laws and they have to strive to achieve it. In the case of free and open source software, both the Free Software Foundation and the Open Source Initiative, the bodies in charge of regulating the different licenses) They periodically face the problem of how to maintain their principles and at the same time prevent someone from being misused.

In the last time, the Open Source Initiative gave him the seal of approval to 4 new licenses for specific purposes.

New open source licenses

Cryptographic Autonomy License version 1.0 (CAL-1.0)

It was created in 2019 by the open source project team Holochain,

This license was developed to be used with distributed cryptographic applications. The drawback with traditional licenses is that they did not require data sharing. This could affect the operation of the entire network. That is why CAL it also includes the obligation to provide third parties with the necessary permissions and materials to use and modify the software independently without that third party having a loss of data or capacity.

Open Hardware License (OHL)

From the hand of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) this license came with three variants efocused on the possibility of freely sharing both hardware and software.

A clarification must be made. OSI was originally created with software in mind, so it does not have mechanisms for approving hardware licenses. But, as CERN's proposal refers to both items, this made approval possible.

Myriam Ayass, the legal advisor of CERN's Knowledge and Technology Transfer Group, is the author of the text of the new licenses. No one better than her to explain its purpose

CERN-OHL licenses mean to hardware what free and open source licenses are to software. They define the conditions under which a licensee may use or modify the licensed material. They share the same principles as free or open source software: anyone should be able to see the source - the design documentation in the case of hardware -, study it, modify it and share it.

As we said, version two of the OHL contains three variants. In the FAQ they explain this by making an analogy with open source software licenses

In the realm of software, there are three generally recognized free and open source licensing regimes: permissive, weak copyleft, and strong copyleft. There are preferences and use cases for each option, and the same is true for hardware. We use the word "reciprocal" instead of "copyleft" because the underlying rights in our case are not limited to copyright.

Those interested in distributing their designs with this type of license must identify the chosen one using the letters: S, W or P:

CERN-OHL-S is a strongly reciprocal license:. Whoever uses a design under this license must make the sources of its modifications and additions available under the same license.
CERN-OHL-W is a weakly reciprocal license: It only forces to distribute the fonts of the part of the design that was originally placed under it. Not so the additions and modifications.
CERN-OHL-P is a permissive licenseto. It allows people to take a project, re-license it, and use it without any obligation to distribute the sources.

It must be said that the people at CERN seem to have found the solution to a problem that has been affecting some open source projects. A large company uses this project to commercialize services and not only makes any contribution to the original project (either with code or financial support) but also competes in the same market.

We had already spoken in Linux Addicts The case of Elastic, a provider of cloud search technologies that changed its open source license to a dual licensing scheme to prevent cloud service providers from using its products for free. The Open Source Initiative spoke out strongly against this type of practice.


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