Does Parity 7.0 allow one to avoid itself by relicensing?

Hi folks,

I’m new here. I have a few pieces of code here and there quite away from being released to the public, but I’ve been following the debate around open-source with great attention. Among the many licenses around Parity was the one that seemed most interesting to me after reading this article.

The question I have is about this section:

  1. Publish all source code for the software in the preferred form for making changes through a freely accessible distribution system widely used for similar source code so the contributor and others can find and copy it.

  2. Make sure every part of the source code is available under this license or another license that allows everything this license does, such as the Blue Oak Model License 1.0.0, the Apache License 2.0, the MIT license, or the two-clause BSD license.

I’m assuming I’m wrong, but is this section only about the contributor’s own additions to the code, or are they allowed to take the project as a whole and relicense it again as, say, BSD2, essentially avoiding Parity’s terms?

The way I read that section is it is explicitly about the requirements on contributing… that’s the subheading, ‘contribute’ and makes those requirements unambiguous. It means that you cannot add any non-shareable code. Anything you contribute must be as permissive as the licenses given as examples.

There is I think a widespread practice for people new to FOSS licensing that a FOSS license means ‘you can do whatever you like’ with code under a FOSS license.

The image is of developers literally making stuff and then throwing it over the fence for anyone to come along and ‘steal’ as soon as they find it.

Generally, because monitoring and enforcement is so weak, this is the norm.

But, should one get caught using FOSS code without the correct attributions and so forth, it’s not really ‘theft’ anyway strictly speaking, it’s copyright infringement.

So, if you take some MIT code, you can’t just fork it and then distribute it under a new license. You still have to include the copyright notice and license text.

AFAIK there are not many licenses where you could argue that the license allows relicensing… maybe the public domain equivalent licenses are as near as you could get to a licensing regime that might imply that relicensing is allowed, but again AFAIK no FOSS license allows relicensing and the license follows the code around no matter where it goes.

Parity explicitly says it cannot be revoked, and does not mention something called ‘sublicensing’ either which might allow a little more flexibility downstream but no, once you have signed up for Parity, that’s basically the way your the main body of the code is going to stay BTL.

From the article you referenced:

Another favorite part about this license for me is that it allows others to license their own software in a more permissive license than Parity itself, so it’s not the same kind of “viral” as other copyleft licenses.

That isn’t the way I read it. My interpretation is more like:

…it allows others to license their contributions in a more permissive way.

Overall, the software license would still be Parity, but if you added some feature branch to the repo, that feature could be BSD or whatever, if you like - rather than having to be strict copyleft.

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Thanks for the reply! That makes a lot of sense, thank you again.

…it allows others to license their contributions in a more permissive way.

That somewhat mirrors my expectations from open source contributions from what I learned in other interactions. I still wanted to ask and be sure anyway because many developers - myself included - have a biased and often misinformed understanding of how licenses work. I still find the section on Contribute ever so slightly confusing, but the overall license is leaps and bounds clearer than most anything else out there.

I have another question regarding licenses, if you may. Suppose I have a piece of software that I wish to license as copyleft - so Parity, in this example - so I would be contributing to the commons, but also find a way to make it so companies are compelled to pay a license for it. Would it work - and how - to license said software under both the Parity License and Big Time License?

I remember I read about one piece of software that was simultaneously licensed under two licenses, giving the licensee the option to choose which one. I think Perl does this, not sure if any other.

The reasoning is as follows:

  • if you wish to use the software to contribute to open source, then use Parity
  • if you wish to contribute to the software itself under open source licenses, Parity again
  • if what you wish to use/contribute is closed source, then Big Time License. For personal use no one has to pay, and only companies over a certain threshold specified by the license are expected to pay for a license

Is this reasoning correct? Would something like this work?

Keep reading!

  1. Note that this license does not allow you to change the license terms for this software. You must follow Notices.
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Eh, once again the answer was right in front of me. Sorry for the useless topic. Thanks for the license, by the way, I really appreciate the clear writing (even though that particular section flew right by)

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I’m glad you asked your question here! Drop by anytime.