Early thoughts on "Apple sample code license"?

It’s one of the licenses closer to open source that I’ve seen. But there are still some things about it that might interfere with the exercise of all of the rights that open source licenses ensure.

It looks like Apple’s intention is to withhold a patent license, although it’s not entirely clear what’s going on with patents. The rights grant is specifically for copyright only and there is a disclaimer of any implied licenses. Where there isn’t a grant of a patent license, and there is a disclaimer of any implied licenses, you have to assume that Apple isn’t granting any patent licenses. That’s something OSI doesn’t allow in approved licenses anymore.

This also shows how much more challenging it is to talk about open source for AI. The grant of only a copyright license for an AI model may not be enough to assure all the necessary freedoms. There are a lot of opinions about whether models are protected by any rights regime at all and, if they are, by which one. This is why the current draft of the AI Source Definition says, for most elements, that they must be “available under OSI-compliant license” but for the model itself it says “available under OSD-conformant terms.”

This license grants rights under only one of the possibilities, copyright. So if the model is protectable by some other regime (contract, database rights, or perhaps newly created rights in models), a grant of a copyright license only isn’t going to ensure that the model is fully available as required by an open source license.

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