The Open Publication License (OPL) was published by the Open Content Project in 1999 as a public copyright license for documents. It superseded the Open Content License, which was published by the Open Content Project in 1998. Starting around 2002-2003, it began to be superseded, in turn, by the Creative Commons licenses.
|Author||Eric S. Raymond, David A. Wiley, Tim O'Reilly|
|Publisher||Open Content Project|
June 08, 1999
|Debian FSG compatible||No|
|FSF approved||Yes, under certain conditions (see below)|
In 1998, the Open Content Project published a licence called the Open Content License, which was among the first (perhaps the first) public copyright licenses intended for content (i.e. documents) rather than for software. The following year, it published the Open Publication License, which was intended to be an improvement upon the Open Content License.
The two licenses differ substantially: the Open Publication License is not a share-alike license while the Open Content License is; and the Open Publication License can optionally restrict the distribution of derivative works or restrict the commercial distribution of paper copies of the work or derivatives of the work, whereas the Open Content License forbids copying for profit altogether.
In June 2003, David A. Wiley, the founder of the Open Content Project, indicated that the Creative Commons licenses, which were developed in collaboration with lawyers, would be "more likely to stand up in court" than the Open Content Project licenses, which were not. He also announced that for this reason, he was joining Creative Commons and shutting down the Open Content Project, and that users thinking of using an Open Content Project license would be "far better off using a Creative Commons license".
Confusingly, the Open Content License gives its abbreviation as "OPL" rather than "OCL", and that license is sometimes referred to by the former initialism. ("OPL", as used by the Open Content Project in 1998, stood for OpenContent Principles and License.) Nevertheless, the license's author has subsequently referred to that license as the "OCL", and to the Open Publication License as the "OPL". This ambiguity about the initialism "OPL" risks confusion, and the only sure way to know which of the two licenses is being referred to, in a given context, is to look for the full name.
According to the Free Software Foundation, the Open Publication License "can be used as a free documentation license" and is "a copyleft free documentation license provided the copyright holder does not exercise any of the 'LICENSE OPTIONS' listed in Section VI of the license." It is not, however, compatible with the GNU FDL.
In October 2004, an analysis of the Open Public License was published by Andrew M. St. Laurent, the author of Understanding Open Source and Free Software Licensing.
Eric S. Raymond's book The Cathedral and the Bazaar (1999) was published under the Open Publication License. Bruce Perens used the license for the Bruce Perens' Open Source Series of books. The Linux Gazette used the Open Publication License. Additionally, the Fedora project used the license for their documentation until approximately 2009-2010 when the project switched to a CC BY-SA license.
[The] Open Content License (July 14, 1998), which was replaced by the Open Publication License (June 8, 1999), were the first licenses to bring the ideals of open source software to the world of content. The OCL predates the GFDL (Nov 2002) and Creative Commons (Dec 2002) by over four years, while the improved OPL predates both by over three years. The OCL was developed primarily by me... The improved OPL was written primarily by Eric Raymond after discussions with me, Tim O’Reilly, and others... The OPL was truly innovative in that, in addition to requiring citation of the original author as source, it contained two license options which authors could choose to invoke: one restricts users’ abilities to creative derivative works, while the second restricts users’ abilities to make certain commercial uses of the material. The student of open content licensing will recognize that these are exactly the options that Creative Commons now employs. What may be forgotten is that in version 1.0 of the Creative Commons licenses, Attribution was actually included in the licenses only as an option. In version 2.0 of the CC licenses (May 24, 2004) attribution was standard on every license, and there were two licenses options: one regarding derivative works, and one regarding commercial use. So in terms of high level structure, the OPL was here about five years before CC. ... Actually, the [OCL and OPL] licenses weren’t that great, seeing as I am not a lawyer, and neither was anyone else involved in the creation of the license. The concept was right, and the execution was “good enough,” but Creative Commons (with its excellent lawyers and law school students) created a better legal instrument. As I said on the opencontent.org homepage on Monday June 30, 2003: 'My main goal in beginning OpenContent back in the Spring of 1998 was to evangelize a way of thinking about sharing materials, especially those that are useful for supporting education. ... I’m closing OpenContent because I think Creative Commons is doing a better job of providing licensing options which will stand up in court [and I'm joining] Creative Commons as Director of Educational Licenses. Now I can focus in on facilitating the kind of sharing most interesting to me ... with the pro bono support of really good IP lawyers... The OpenContent License and Open Publication License will remain online for archival purposes in their current locations. However, no future development will occur on the licenses themselves.' ... Anyone interested in a license like this is far better off using a Creative Commons license.
This license can be used as a free documentation license. It is a copyleft free documentation license provided the copyright holder does not exercise any of the “LICENSE OPTIONS” listed in Section VI of the license. But if either of the options is invoked, the license becomes nonfree. In any case, it is incompatible with the GNU FDL... Please note that this license is not the same as the Open Content License. These two licenses are frequently confused, as the Open Content License is often referred to as the “OPL”. For clarity, it is better not to use the abbreviation “OPL” for either license. It is worth spelling their names in full to make sure people understand what you say.
This license does not qualify as free, because there are restrictions on charging money for copies. We recommend you do not use this license. Please note that this license is not the same as the Open Publication License. The practice of abbreviating “Open Content License” as “OPL” leads to confusion between them. For clarity, it is better not to use the abbreviation “OPL” for either license. It is worth spelling their names in full to make sure people understand what you say.