[License-discuss] plain text license versions?

Ben Reser ben at reser.org
Fri Sep 7 17:37:35 UTC 2012

On Thu, Sep 6, 2012 at 11:12 PM, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> Card catalogue?  Help from a librarian?

Depending on the license that may not be so easy.  I doubt there is
just a book of open source licenses.  So you're likely going to have
to find some other book that includes the license.  If it's not a
common license it may not even be possible.

>> For that matter is it not also a violation of the technology neutral
>> clause of the open source definition?
> No.  Read it.

I did.  If you only provide a URL to read the license I can't fathom
how you're going to argue that doesn't violate that clause of the

Which says:
"No provision of the license may be predicated on any individual
technology or style of interface."

You can't even read the license without using a several specific
technologies.  If it's not a common license like the GPL you may have
no way of knowing what the license said.  It may not be in a book.
The URL may have disappeared.  Making the software in essence All
Rights Reserved as far as anyone is concerned since they may no longer
have a clue what the license said.

>> How do you know that you've found the correct license text from a
>> search engine.
> Indeed, Moriarty the Master Criminal might have put decoy pages up!
> Let's call Interpol.

Your response implies that the only way this would happen is if it was
intentional.  I think the unintentional mistake is far more likely.
If you have the license included with the software there can be no
dispute about what the license the author intended.  If the author
puts a link to a URL that then disappears and some distributor finds a
different copy of the license that is different in some subtle way you
may end up with a crummy outcome for everyone.

All of these scenarios are easily overcome by just including the
license with the software.  The licenses are not very large and I
don't see the problem with needing to include them.

More information about the License-discuss mailing list