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Licenses Academic Free License Version 3.0 (AFL)

Open Source Software license

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Academic Free License Version 3.0 (AFL)

I. Overview

Academic Free License 3.0 (AFL) was written by Lawrence Rosen. Rosen is both an attorney and a computer specialist. He specializes in intellectual property protection, business licensing and transactions for technology companies. In addition, Rosen also served as general counsel and secretary of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) for many years, and advises many non-profit projects, such as the Apache Software Foundation, the Python Software Foundation, and the Free Standards Group.

As the free/open source software emerges and its market share increases, proprietary software companies have made several attempts to respond. One of them is to commence actions alleging patent infringement of free/open source software. The AFL and the Open Software License 3.0 (OSL) are designed to protect free/open source software with a defensive strategy – the "termination for patent action" clause. According to the AFL, the rights granted to the licensee by the licene shall terminate automatically if the licensee commences an action for patent infringement against the licensor. This feature will be further explained in details in the following paragraph of "IV. Unique Features".

 

II. Current Status

At present, around fifty projects on Freshmeat use a version of the AFL license.Generally speaking, the AFL is not a popular license.

III. Rights and Duties

1. Rights

(1) Licensor grants the licensee a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sublicensable license, for the duration of the copyright, to do the following:

(A) to reproduce the whole or part of the original work;

(B) to translate, adapt, alter, transform, modify, or arrange the original work, thereby creating derivative works;

(C) to distribute or communicate copies of the original work and derivative works to the public; and

(D) to perform or display the original work publicly.

(2) Licensor grants the licensee a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sublicensable license, for the duration of the patent, to do the following:

(A) to make the original work or derivative works;

(B) to use the original work or derivative works;

(C) to sell, and offer for sale the original work or derivative works; 

(D) to have made the original work or derivative works; and

(E) to import the original work or derivative works.

(3) The licensee is free to use other licsenses when distributing copies of the original work or derivative works. The licensee is permitted, under the AFL, to refuse to provide source code or to charge royalties.

2. Duties


(1) The licsensee must keep providing source code as long as he continutes to distribute copies of the original work or derivative works with the AFL.

(2) Without prior permission of the licensor, neither the names of the licensor, nor the names or trademarks of any contributors, may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this original work.

(3) The licsensee must cause the derivative works to carry a prominent attribution notice to inform recipients that the licensee have modified the original work.

(4) The licsensee may no longer exercise any of the rights granted to him upon his failure to comply with the conditions of the AFL.

IV. Unique Features

1. Article 10 of the AFL (the "Termination for Patent Action" clause) provides that this license shall terminate automatically and the licensee may no longer exercise any of the rights granted to him by this license as of the date he commence an action, alleging that the free/open source software (which is approved by the OSI and is licensed under this license) infringes a patent. The AFL is regarded as a mechanism to protect the free/open source software from patent infringement lawsuits.

2. Attribution Rights: The licensee must cause the source code for any derivative works that he creates to carry a prominent attribution notice clearly stating that he has modified the original work. The licensee must also retain all copyright, patent, or trademark notices from the source code of the original work in the notice.

3. The AFL is quite similar to the OSL. They are both written by Lawrence Rosen and both contains the Termination for Patent Action clause. The only difference between the two is the section 1(c). The AFL grants the licsensees the full right to choose their own licsenses, i.e. the licsensee is free to choose any license other than the AFL when distributing the works, whether the AFLed program is modified or not. The OSL, on the other hand, adopts the spirit of copyleft. Namely, the licensee may distribute copies of the original work and derivative works to the public, with the proviso that copies of original work or derivative works that he distributes shall be licensed under the OSL, whether this OSLed program is modified or not. It is fair to say that the AFL is a BSD-like license, while OSL is more like a GPL.





Category: Licenses