Does the "Share" verb need clarification?

The “Share” verb is currently written as:

  • Share the system for others to use with or without modifications, for any purpose.

A [comment on drafts](The Open Source AI Definition - HackMD 0.0.3 and 0.0.4 by pseudonym Aspie96 requires wider discussion. I’m reporting his argument here to give it more exposure:

In the previous draft, I suggested to add “as open source”. Stefano rejected this suggestion, saying the change would be redundant. I failed to see the reply at first, but I still personally hold that it would make the definition clearer, so I’ll try to make my case better.
OSD3 states:
The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software.

The FSD document clarifies:

Freedom 3 includes the freedom to release your modified versions as free software.

In essence, FLOSS licenses only need to allow distribution of derivatives of the software / AI system as FLOSS.
Equivalently, FLOSS licenses may place this limitation on the freedom to distribute derivatives.

This clarifies that licenses do not need to allow the distribution of proprietary derivatives. What they say on the matter, one way or the other, doesn’t affect whether they are FLOSS.

The fact that licenses may be copyleft is absolutely non-obvious, since it’s a limitation on the freedoms and would be up for debate if not spelled out, which is why both the OSD and the FSD spell it out.

I am not convinced that the current wordings prevent the sharing of the AI system under the same conditions of the original.

Any other thoughts?

Not a comment on the issue raised by @Aspie96, but it occurs to me that the “Share” language causes the meaning of “use” to be more ambiguous than it might otherwise be (which relates to a separate topic that Stef has raised). The freedom to share should not be limited to granting others the right to use in a narrow sense, or the right to use in a narrow sense coupled possibly with the right to use modified versions.

For example, suppose a license covering an “AI system” said “You can distribute this system to others, provided that you prohibit them from distributing the system to anyone else.” Surely that would not be considered “open”.

Actually, maybe this does relate to @Aspie96’s comments.

Thanks @fontana for the mention.

I’m not suggesting it does.

What I think is not obvious is that a license that restricts the freedom to share by saying that you’re only allowed to distribute a derivative under the same license would still meet the definition.

Indeed, if the right to share is limited such that you’re not allowed to place additional restrictions and you can only distribute the derivative if you also license your modifications, which is the case for copyleft/reciprocal licenses, I don’t think it’s obvious, under the current draft, that the license would qualify as “open source”.

Copyleft is a rather clever idea, as well as arguably one of the most restrictive conditions an open source license can have and still qualify as such, as well as still somewhat controversial. The day someone raises the objection that a copyleft license can’t possibly be an open source AI license because it restricts the freedom to share, which it does, what’s in the current draft that can be used as a response to that? I think nothing and I think it should be patched.

@Aspie96 This is an interesting concern and possible solution. I understand your point to be, “We need to make it clear sharing as Open Source is always permitted to counter the fact that copyleft is effectively a restriction on sharing.”

Doesn’t adding “Sharing as Open Source …” end up restricting the ability to share as non-Open Source?

That is, disallowing the writing of a permissive license?

This may be a bit wordy, but what about:

Share the system including as Open Source for others to use with or without modifications, for any purpose.

Or alternately:

Share the system — including as Open Source — for others to use with or without modifications, for any purpose.

Not really.

The definition describes what the license must permit for it to qualify as an open source license. If a license permits you to do other things, if it gives you extra freedoms, it doesn’t become not open source.

A non-copyleft permissive license allows you to do everything that a copyleft license allows you to do (plus something else). Are you allowed to share a (modified) program under the MIT license as open source? Yes. So the freedom-to-share requirement is met. In addition to that you’re also allowed to share it as proprietary, which doesn’t contradict the definition.

Indeed, while the FSD document goes in more detail, criteria 3 in the OSD does not, but allowing more stuff never leads to fall short of the open source definition, even if it’s stuff you don’t need to allow.

My concern with this wording is the fact that it could still be interpreted in the sense that an open source license must allow you to share the modified software as open source or not. What we want it to say is that it must allow you to share it as open source and it may or may not allow you to share it as proprietary.

That said, I feel OSD3 wording (“under the same terms”) is better than my own (“as open source”) because copyleft licenses are allowed to be inflexible in that regard.

I like the logic of OSD3 which allows both copyleft and permissive.
If the phrase “as open source” is to be inserted, I feel it is necessary to clearly state somewhere in OSAID that the term “Open Source” is defined in the OSD.

I think that both wordings allow both copyleft and permissive licenses. Indeed, both the OSI and the FSF accept both kinds of open licenses.

Any permissive license can also be re-written as a copyleft license with an additional exception. You can’t make an open license not open by adding more permissions.