[License-discuss] OSI approved license without original license and reproduction of notices required in redistributions?

Chuck Swiger chuck at codefab.com
Mon Jul 2 16:45:11 UTC 2012

On 7/2/2012 11:40 AM, Casey Rodarmor wrote:
> On Mon, Jul 2, 2012 at 11:16 PM, Chuck Swiger<chuck at codefab.com>  wrote:
>> Nope.  The obligation to keep the copyright statement intact is typically
>> required by law (see 17 USC section 506(c)(d) or your local equivalent), and
>> the obligation to keep the license terms&  disclaimer intact is a standard
>> component of all-- or nearly all-- licenses.
> Can you explain this obligation? It seems that if I am the original
> copyright holder and I specifically allow for it in the license,
> alteration of the copyright notices and trivial relicensing should be
> no problem.

I'll infer that by asking this question, you didn't actually read:



>> It sounds like you're looking for "public domain", which may or may not be
>> available depending on your local law.  Since public domain isn't always
>> well-defined or available, using a simple permissive license is the next
>> best thing.
> My shaky legal understanding is that since copyright is the legal
> leverage with which you dictate the terms of a license, it may not be
> possible to dedicate something to the public domain AND provide
> provisions such as those that I mentioned before. (Patent,
> indemnification, etc)

That's probably close enough for a non-lawyer.

>> You can't remove Apache section 4 without replacing it with similar terms
>> which grant folks the permission to reproduce the software, modify it, etc.
> I would like to remove the sub-clauses (1,2,3 and 4, or a, b, c, and
> d, depending on the version) of section 4, not all of section 4. It
> seems like those sub-clauses wouldn't need replacement, since they are
> purely restrictive in nature, merely qualifying the unrestricted
> distribution rights given in the opening of section 4 itself.

Well, you can license your own works under any terms you please.  However, 
changing the license terms carelessly can make your licensed software not 
miscible with other software licenses and adds to the pain of license 

It's also not advisable for someone to alter an existing license without 
consulting their own lawyer; if you don't have someone to provide a legal 
review, then you're almost certainly better off using an existing license 
which actually has been reviewed.

If you're a coder, hack code.  Let the lawyers hack licenses.  :-)

>> Perhaps consider the MIT or 2-clause BSD licenses if you want something
>> smaller which is OSI approved.  Otherwise, perhaps take a look at the
>> Beerware license, http://unlicense.org/ license, CC0, or WTFPL.
> These licenses are fine, except that they do not have, for example, a
> default license for contributions, patent clause, etc.

Sure, the default license for contribution clause is something I also like 
about the Apache license.

> And the beerware, MIT, and BSD licenses are self-perpetuating, they require
> their reproduction along with the work they cover.
> Perhaps the question I should be asking is, why is this kind of
> license a de-facto standard? (And by this kind of license I mean one
> that requires that the license and all copyright notices be kept
> intact.) Why not just let people do whatever they want with the work
> in question?

Without the license, folks would not have permission to redistribute someone 
else's copyrighted work.

> I want to be attributed, but I find it distasteful to legally require people to do so.

In many places, the author of a work has the legal right/obligation to be 
identified as such; for example from French / European law see droit d'auteur.

> Also, I know that people have a preference for many different
> licenses, GPL, Apache 2.0, MIT, etc. I would like to release my work
> under a license that can simply be replaced with the license of their
> choice, or, in the case of a combination of work A and my work, can
> simply be licensed under A's license, without being required to
> perpetuate my license.

You're referring to the notion of "license miscibility".
Easy solution: choose an existing OSI-approved permissive license.

If you have reasons for not going with the easy solution, then you'll probably 
find it useful to read your local copyright laws, consult the list archives 
for the OSI lists, the FSF's licensing site (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/), 
and, of course, talk with a lawyer.

> Sorry for all naive questions, this is the first time that I've
> actually been required to understand software licenses, after many
> years of simply agreeing to them :)

Heh-- software licensing isn't *too* painful.  YMMV, since my immediate 
comparison for "painful" is leap-second handling in the Linux kernel and 
JVM....  8-) / 2


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