Approval request - Poetic License

David Johnson david at
Thu Nov 8 03:17:09 UTC 2001

On Wednesday 07 November 2001 05:00 pm, Chris Brien wrote:
> Hi
> I sent this to license-approval at, and I thought it might be
> agood idea to post it here too.

Oh geeze...

Although I may agree with some of your sentiments, a software "license" is 
not the place to air them. It's also doubtful if this license is legally 
valid. If the license isn't valid, then it CANNOT be open source since you 
haven't legally granted any permission to copy, distribute or modify. 
Copyright law is a fact of life. You may not like it but you still have to 
live with it.

You are making the erroneous assumption that all licenses operate under the 
same "pretense". That is not true. I would divide licenses into two 
categories: those that require agreement (contracts), and those that are 
grants of permission. Most OSS licenses fall into the latter category. You 
don't have to agree to anything in order to use, copy, distribute or modify 
the software. Many of these have their permissions predicated on certain 
conditions, so they may seem like agreements, but they really aren't required 
to agree to anything. 

Here is what I would do instead:

Reformulate your "license" into a statement of purpose, prologue or preamble, 
then make the REAL license a simple grant of permission. Tell me what I can 
do with your software. Here's an example: "permission is granted without 
restriction to copy, distribute, transmit, modify and transform this work." I 
would also include a warranty disclaimer to protect yourself from torts.

David Johnson
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