Fighting license proliferation at its core: Mighty and Beastie Licenses

Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M. roddixon at
Mon Sep 12 13:22:03 UTC 2005

> On Sep 10, 2005, at 10:26 PM, Chris Zumbrunn wrote:
>> In a perfect world, I think open source software would just
>> contain the copyright notices in the source code, specifying the
>> license that applies to that code, but the license itself would not
>> contain any direct references to that project, copyright holder or
>> contributor. Instead, the license would refer back to the
>> copyright notice that referenced the license.
>> If in addition to the different conditions, licenses also have
>> different grants and different warranty disclaimers, the troubles
>> starts to develop to the scope that has been identified as a
>> concern regarding license proliferation.
> The GPL already fulfills these requirements for projects that want
> to choose a strong-copyleft license. With the AFL and OSL
> there would also be such alternatives for projects that prefer a
> BSD-ish or a copyleft license, but most projects continue to use
> the less verbose MIT and BSD-esque licenses. Why?
> The problem is likely one of "marketing" and one of a preference
> for the non-verboseness of the traditional licenses like I described
> in my previous message. The best way to overcome the marketing
> problem would be to rename the AFL to "Beastie License 3.0" or
> even BSD 3.0. This might have a surprising effect in the developer
> community and could trigger a much wider adaption of the new
> licenses.
> Larry, do you agree that "verboseness" and "marketing" are the two
> factors that are slowing down AFL and OSL adaption?
> What is better for the open source community and the courts?
> Verbose or non-verbose licenses?
> Chris
I am not sure what Larry thinks about your proposal, but it is clear to me 
that you have made assumptions that are open to dispute.  Assuming what is 
"better" for the courts is also "better" for the open source community, 
whether a license is verbose is not nearly as important as being clear and 
containing valid enforceable terms. Once you draft you a legally valid 
license that says what you intend, you can work toward making the license 
concise. If you begin with the goal of brevity, you may end up with a short 
statement that does not do very much worthy of use or re-use.

I do not think your proposal(s) improve the so-called "verbose" BSD at all. 
I would re-examine some of ther word choices in your draft.


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