Broad Combination Exception in CAL

Continuing the discussion from Cryptographic Autonomy License draft v1.0-Beta:

I see this in unilateral commercial terms, but it always strikes me as overly narrow. I take it a line like “reasonably anticipated by Licensor” or “reasonably anticipated by the Documentation” unacceptably allocated the burden of uncertainty, from Holo’s point of view?

Three basic responses.

  1. As a practical matter, “reasonably anticipated” is a litigation magnet. I would not advise any client to sign onto something like that. “As documented,” probably. Holo would need to be aware of inducement anyway. But if you are creating a platform, what sort of combinations would you consider “reasonable” to anticipate?
  2. Holo may have patents on other aspects of the system. The carveout allows them to control what is or is not automatically licensed.
  3. Holo - following my advice - wanted to make CAL possibly acceptable to a broader range of possible licensors. This meant including the combination carveout.

Agreed. But on balance, exempting literally any combination is a trap. Software’s no good without hardware. And usually without other software.

You could ape the Apache 2.0 patent-scope compromise. But if you prefer to scope to the software as provided, I’d consider a more positive formulation, rather than swallowing permission granted with an exception. For example, from OSL-3.0:

Licensor grants You a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sublicensable license, under patent claims owned or controlled by the Licensor that are embodied in the Original Work as furnished by the Licensor, for the duration of the patents, to make, use, sell, offer for sale, have made, and import the Original Work and Derivative Works.

The upshot is making the terms specific to complete applications, at least when wisely applied.