OS Clarifies The Status Of The APSL
Earlier today (16 March 1999) Bruce Perens, Wichert Akkerman, and Ian Jackson
issued an open letter titled The
Apple Public Source License Our Concerns alleging that the Open
Source Initiative acted incorrectly in certifying the Apple Public Source
License as being conformant with the
Open Source Definition.
It is OSI's position that the claims in this open letter are entirely
mistaken; they are founded on erroneous readings of the license and of
applicable common and statute law.
First, in regard to Section 2.2(c), the reporting requirement. The open letter
suggests a scenario in which Apple's demise would leave open-source developers
unable to comply with 2.2(c), which would in turn cause their rights to lapse.
This reading ignores the severability language in clause 13.6. If Apple dies,
clause 2.2(c) becomes ipso facto unenforceable and (under 13.6) is voided
without compromising the remainder of the license.
Second, in regard to 9.1. Equating this language to the Jikes patent
clause is simply wrong. To see this, note the qualification "Affected
Original Code". We discussed this point with Apple in detail; what
Apple is reserving is the right to withdraw not the entire
"Original Code" (as in the Jikes license) but only those parts
directly touched by the infringement.
This means precisely those portions which an infringement lawsuit
could force open-source developers to stop using if Apple were not
involved. This clause merely covers Apple's liability under law; it
does not create any more exposure for open-source developers than
would exist under U.S. patent law if it were not present.
The OSI rejects the open letter's implicit contention that, "Eric
Raymond [...] jumped a little too fast to embrace the APSL." The OSI
Board requested and got substantial changes from Apple before
the APSL was made public. The Board then acted unanimously in
authorizing Eric to publicly endorse it on behalf of OSI.
The OSI stands behind its endorsement, applauds Apple's vision, and
confidently expects the APSL terms will serve as a model for the
open-sourcing of other Apple technologies perhaps, indeed, for
the open-sourcing of operating systems from other computer systems
manufacturers now that Apple has taken the first groundbreaking step.
Issued by and for the Board of Directors of OSI
by Eric S. Raymond, President
17 Mar 1999