Fighting license proliferation at its core: Mighty and Beastie Licenses
dbarrett at quinthar.com
Mon Sep 12 17:03:44 UTC 2005
On Mon, 12 Sep 2005 7:14 am, Chris Zumbrunn wrote:
> 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.
By "verbose" do you mean:
- extremely precise, and/or
- complicated (to the layman)
I think we can all agree that a license should be no longer nor
complicated than absolutely necessary. But it seems the question is
whether "extremely precise" is "absolutely necessary".
Given that law is not C and that courts have greater interpretive
flexibility than compilers, I think the argument has merit that
attempting exact precision might be counterproductive if the same effect
could have been achieved -- with less length and complexity -- by
relying on the court to resolve the fine details.
Furthermore, it's possible that in the pursuit of exact precision you
might define something in a non-optimal way. For example, two
jurisdictions might have different optimal definitions for "code", and
by forcing one in the license it might be disadvantageous in the other.
Repeat with changing law, different languages, different precedent,
Thus I agree it seems possible that an intentionally and carefully
imprecise license might actually be stronger than one where precision
Not being a lawyer I can only guess at the legal strength of the above
argument. But being Joe engineer, I can say that I place a premium on
short and non-complicated (to a layman), and if you can accomplish both
through selective imprecision, without reducing the strength of the
license, then you'll certainly get more of my support.
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