Re: SPDX Data License Selection Rationale -- RE: TR: SPDX standard: files are placed in public domain


Mark I am not a lawyer but I have a different understanding of copyright law



Attached is a document that explains the rationale behind why the Creative Commons Zero license was selected by the SPDX legal working group. The core requirements for consideration were:

  o does not imply that SPDX data is intellectual property;


>>> My understanding is that any data which is the original production from an entity can be considered as a work and is protected by copyright law. So if I say "Emacs is licensed under MIT license and has been secretly produced by Michel Ruffin" (sorry for R. Stallman, I do not claim that 8-) I just take a challenging example) this text/wording is a creative work of michel Ruffin and perhaps by saying that I am launching a new advertisement campaign for a new product (with an agreement with R. Stallman). Who knows?


  o in jurisdictions that permit data to be intellectual property - prevents others from claiming

    controlling ownership over the data contained in a SPDX file;


>>> To my knowledge US and European jurisdictions are protecting data copyright so forcing them to be public domain might be against the law


  o will not hinder adoption of the SPDX format by the open source community;

  o minimizes further license proliferation in the open source community;

  o permits the exchange of SPDX files under confidentiality terms (potentially temporarily) for special

    situations that may require it.


>>> the exception you mention for me is the general case


For the details on the pros and cons of different license options please see the attached document.


- Mark


Mark Gisi | Wind River | Senior Intellectual Property Manager

Tel (510) 749-2016 | Fax (510) 749-4552



-----Original Message-----

From: spdx-bounces@... [mailto:spdx-bounces@...] On Behalf Of RUFFIN, MICHEL (MICHEL)

Sent: Friday, June 22, 2012 5:44 AM

To: Jilayne Lovejoy; Kevin P. Fleming; spdx@...

Cc: Freedman, Barry H (Barry); SPDX-legal

Subject: RE: TR: SPDX standard: files are placed in public domain


As you say (I like the expression) my concern about this license is more like getting an eye brow raised; What does this license implies?


If I want to export data from our DB, I will not make it public but aim a specific company/group to do it. If this is partner or a non profit organization, the data will be provided without any liability from ALU that it is correct (we can do mistake) the goal is to help the partner, non profit organization. If it is a customer we will probably take a little more commitment and we will add a clause such as "to the best of our knowledge this data is accurate" or something like this. But in any case we will not provide this data with the name of our company as public domain our lawyers will not accept that. The subject is so complex that there is necessary mistakes.


Now a disclaimer of warranty and liability is not enough. If I publish a list of software in which I say this software is LGPL, while in fact it is GPL I can be sued for GPL infringement.


In addition our DB is not SPDX compliant is the way that there are some field which interpret FOSS license according to ALU policy, special deals done with copyright owners to interpret license differently or have special permissions, consideration regarding patents (ALu or external), ... We are doing currently a cleaning to separate this information from what we can export, but with 200 people feeding independently and continually our database we cannot guarantee that some confidential information will not be in the export file. So public domain is out of question.


That's for the use case. Now on the legal side. If I generate an export file and I write "Alcatel-Lucent proprietary data - confidential" This is in contradiction with the license saying data must be in public domain. What does the judge decide in this case? I asked the question to our lawyers and they say it is unclear but they are not sure that presenting proprietary data according to a standard might impose a license on the data.


I will be happy to participate to a conf call on the subject, this need clarification and can jeopardize the success of SPDX. But one of our lawyers (Barry) should be present to understand and explain the implication of this license.




Michel.Ruffin@..., PhD

Software Coordination Manager, Bell Labs, Corporate CTO Dpt

Distinguished Member of Technical Staff

Tel +33 (0) 6 75 25 21 94

Alcatel-Lucent International, Centre de Villarceaux

Route De Villejust, 91620 Nozay, France



-----Message d'origine-----

De : spdx-bounces@... [mailto:spdx-bounces@...] De la part de Jilayne Lovejoy

Envoyé : vendredi 22 juin 2012 03:03

À : Kevin P. Fleming; spdx@...

Cc : SPDX-legal

Objet : Re: TR: SPDX standard: files are placed in public domain


In response to Michel's initial question about CC-0 (and subsequent



Here's some of the back story:

This was an issue that the legal work group spent a vast amount of time

discussing.  Initially we had decided on the PddL license, but got some

pretty severe push-back for that license during LinuxCon North America and

1.0 release last August.  So, it was back to the drawing board.  Due to

the many meetings spent discussing this (which may be captured to varying

degrees in the meeting minutes around that time...), Mark Gisi (thanks

Mark!) posted a summary of the reason for having a license and then the

pros and cons of the various license options discussed on its own page

(see for easy

reference, transparency, and historical purposes. Once we decided on CC-0,

we reached out to various community members (including those specifically

who had expressed discomfort with PddL) to make sure the new decision was



That is a very short summary of the process.  The webpage referenced above

provides a good overview, but naturally does not capture the nuances and

details of the concerns, rationale, and so forth raised during those



Michel - from, your previous email, it sounds like you've got an eye brow

raised, but are still formulating exactly what the exact concern is. (I do

think that the goal of using an open, permissive license, if one at all,

was to facilitate free exchange, which appears to be part of your

concern.)  In any case, perhaps the above information will help a bit and

if you have further concerns, I might suggest either asking for an agenda

item on one of the legal calls or I can simply set up a call with some of

the key people who were involved in the above process  - which ever is

more appropriate.


Consequently, I have now included this email on the SPDX Legal group list

as well, as others may be able to weigh in.  The relevant bits from the

various emails are cut and pasted below (separated by a dotted line) for

reference for those who missed this on the general SPDX mailing list.


Incidentally - Kevin and Bradley both had good points in regards to the

potential legal analysis.  The other piece of that puzzle concerns the

reality that E.U. law does allow database protection (of facts, that would

otherwise not be considered protectable under, U.S. law, for example).  If

anyone is interested in learning more about this, there is an excellent

article here:

(but don't go learning too much about this law stuff, as you might put us

out of work ;)





Jilayne Lovejoy |  Corporate Counsel

OpenLogic, Inc.


jlovejoy@...  |  720 240 4545







On Fri Jun 15 09:37:17 2012, RUFFIN, MICHEL (MICHEL) wrote:

>I am not very happy that data must be made in public domain. For the

>following reasons:

>-  ALU should not be responsible of the data if we export it. And I

>understand that ther e is a clause that loow us to do exception (ALU

>name not exported with the data, but it should be the other way around

>by default any export file should not imply any responsibility from

>exporting company).

>- if by mischance there are some comments which we will not want to

>share with the rest of the world. It should be protected by the

>licensing conditions.


Just to clarify, is it your desire to be allowed to license SPDX files

that you produce under terms of your choice? Or are you suggesting that

we change the required licensing of SPDX to include a disclaimer of

some sort?


Regarding the second bullet, can you provide examples of scenarios

where confidentiality agreements (which until now have been the

proposed solution to this problem) between you and your partners would

be insufficient?


Thanks in advance,






What I want is freedom, to exchange information between companies without

constraints. If we need constraints, we put it in the contract. It is not

to SPDX to put the constraints.


Let us time to think about consequences/consraints, ... before addressing

the issue. But the question is what was the purpose of this initially?


Michel.Ruffin@..., PhD

Software Coordination Manager, Bell Labs, Corporate CTO Dpt

Distinguished Member of Technical Staff

Tel +33 (0) 6 75 25 21 94

Alcatel-Lucent International, Centre de Villarceaux

Route De Villejust, 91620 Nozay, France





On 6/15/12 3:05 PM, "Kevin P. Fleming" <kpfleming@...> wrote:


>On 06/15/2012 03:53 PM, Peter Williams wrote:

>> On Fri Jun 15 14:40:49 2012, RUFFIN, MICHEL (MICHEL) wrote:

>>> But the question is what was the purpose of this initially?


>> It is a excellent question. I have never understood this purpose of this

>> "feature" of SPDX so someone else will have to provide the answer.

>I suspect that it may be at least partially based on the fact that the

>SPDX file consists almost exclusively of data collected from original

>sources, and copyright law (at least as I've been told, I'm no lawyer)

>doesn't provide my copyright protection at all for aggregation of

>otherwise available data. In essence, an SPDX file may not adequately

>constitute a 'work of authorship' that warrants copyright protection,

>and thus there really wouldn't be a legitimate way to control its

>distribution via licensing.

>This is just a mildly educated guess late on a Friday afternoon, though.

>I could be 1000% off base :-)


>Kevin P. Fleming

>Digium, Inc. | Director of Software Technologies

>Jabber: kfleming@... | SIP: kpfleming@... | Skype: kpfleming

>445 Jan Davis Drive NW - Huntsville, AL 35806 - USA

>Check us out at &


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