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November 2018 to June 2019: Anti-996, PPL, and other licensing updates

Item posted by Wensheng XIE <wxie> on Thu 06 Jun 2019 01:35:28 PM UTC.

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Dear CCT members,

We recently added two new licenses to our list of Various Licenses and Comments about Them and we updated our comments on Creative Commons 0 (CC0). We cleaned up the Free Software Foundation (FSF) Licensing & Compliance Team page and refreshed the materials on it. What follows is a brief rundown on those changes, and how you can learn more about free software licensing.
Personal Public License Version 3a (PPL)

The PPL is a nonfree license based on the GNU General Public License version 3 (GPL). The PPL takes the language of the GPL, but redefines who is a licensee to exclude "Organizations." That means that non profits, governments, and other organizations are not able to enjoy the four freedoms in any software licensed under the PPL.

Free software does not discriminate based on who the user is, or how the user intends to use the software. The PPL falls into the same trap of those who would restrict military or "commercial" use of software. Such restrictions are antithetical to software freedom, so any license with such a term is necessarily a proprietary software license.
Anti-996 License

We added the Anti-996 License to the nonfree list. The "996" in the name refers to a common labor practice in China requiring workers to work from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, six days a week. The license attempts to ban use of the software by organizations or users that fail to comply with local labor laws or international labor standards. Like the PPL, this restriction on who may use the software renders the license nonfree. Free software never limits the freedom to run the program.

CC0 is a public domain dedication. If for any reason such dedication is not possible, it has a fallback license meant to ensure virtually the same conditions. But CC0 explicitly does not grant a patent license, making it problematic for use on software. Our entry previously didn't cover this last aspect of the license. We've updated our comments to explain how the patent situation with CC0 works, and to warn users about the issues involved in using software available under the license.
Licensing team updates

As part of our spring cleaning, we made some updates to the overview of our available licensing materials. We welcomed some new team members over the past year, and finally have them included on the FSF Compliance Lab Team page. We made a number of other minor updates, as we're always looking to improve the resources we offer. But if we missed something, or if you would like to see more resources added, let us know by sending us an email at Here's what else you can do to help:

    Help your colleagues stay informed by letting them know about the FSF's licensing updates mailing list.

    Want to know more? Check out our previous licensing updates blogpost.

Thank you to all the FSF associate members and donors who make this important work possible.


Donald Robertson, III
Licensing & Compliance Manager

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