License Wizard; previously Re: An explanation of the difficulty of solving licenseproliferation in one sentence

Alex Rousskov rousskov at
Thu Apr 7 19:17:44 UTC 2005

On Thu, 2005/04/07 (MDT), <jcowan at> wrote:

> Justin Clift scripsit:
>> a) Allow commercial uses of your work? (with link for more info)
> A license that forbids commercial use is against the OSD, so that's out.

Yes and no. The question is a good one. If the person answers "no", the  
wizard will tell them that there is no OSI-certified license that meets  
their needs. There may be more questions like that, I think.

>> b) Allow modifications of your work? (with link for more info)
>>    + Yes
>>    + Yes, as long as others share alike (with link for more info)
>>    + No
> This is IMHO the most important question.

Agreed. However, many people do not care so there must always be a "do not  
know/care" option.

The sub-question to (b-sharealike) would distinguish GPL-like from  
LGPL-like licenses, I guess.

>> c) Jurisdiction of your license
>>    [drop down selector with countries]
>> d) Tell us the format of your work
>>    [drop down selector with various file types]
> I think these two are irrelevant, the first because we don't know how
> to handle it, the second because Open Source is explicitly about  
> software.


Other questions could include:

	- Do you want your license tailored to lawyers or be short and informal?
	  (there should be a better way to phrase this)

	- Do you want your company name in the license text?
	  (only a few templated licenses allow that, I guess)

	- Do you want a patent-defense clause?
	  (with explanations)

	- Something about giving author a credit

	- Something about ease of modification (some licenses require patches and  

	- Something about ease of citation (well-known license name, version)

Again, I think the question graph should be fully configurable. The same  
wizard can even ask whether you want a recommendation based on OSI  
logic/preferences or FSF logic/preferemces or CelebrityN  

And, within a reason, more questions should not hurt (folks can always  
skip any question they do not care about).

To simplify things, I would hard-code that each question changes the  
relative weight of one or more known licenses and a set of questions to  
ask next. The license(s) with higher resulting weights would be used for  
the final recommendation, possibly along with some short explanation about  
each license. It would be cool if the decision logic would be explained to  
the user as well (see my earlier post for an example of a dialog).



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