[License-discuss] plain text license versions?

Ben Tilly btilly at gmail.com
Fri Sep 7 17:58:05 UTC 2012

On Fri, Sep 7, 2012 at 10:37 AM, Ben Reser <ben at reser.org> wrote:
> On Thu, Sep 6, 2012 at 11:12 PM, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
>>> 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
> definition.
> Which says:
> "No provision of the license may be predicated on any individual
> technology or style of interface."

The location of the license text is not a provision of the license.
Some licenses, for instance the GPL, actually say that you have to
distribute the license along with the work.  Others leave the matter
silent.  Either way the license is an open source license.

You may argue that software with an uninterpretable license is not
really open.  This is not a problem.  Open source does not mean
copyleft.  A lot of open source licenses allow people to incorporate
the software in proprietary products, and you don't even have to be
told it is there.

> 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.

This is all true, and entirely irrelevant to the point that you wish to argue.

> 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.

I have heard people who have distributed embedded software with GPLed
components disagree with this.  Adding the GPL inside of a device that
nobody can interact with the inside of is pretty useless, and is
frustrating when they are often left fighting for every byte.  Given
the number of devices with embedded computers, this is not exactly a
small use case.

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