Fighting license proliferation at its core: Mighty and Beastie Licenses

Chris Zumbrunn chris at
Mon Sep 12 13:53:26 UTC 2005

On Sep 12, 2005, at 3:22 PM, Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M. wrote:

> On Sep 12, 2005, at 11:21 AM, Chris Zumbrunn wrote:
>> 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?
> 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.

Assuming a license would be drafted well, is it true that "verbose" 
means "better for the courts"? The argument in favor of non-verbose 
licenses would be that they allow the courts to interpret the license 
the way it was intended, as appropriate for the given jurisdiction, and 
that non-verbose licenses are less troublesome regarding the 
translation to other languages.

Otherwise, is the safety of verbose licenses, that leave little 
room/risk for interpretation by the courts, a sufficiently significant 
advantage that the use of non-verbose licenses in the open source 
community should be discouraged?


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