[License-discuss] Open source license chooser choosealicense.com launched.

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at rosenlaw.com
Sat Aug 24 22:29:28 UTC 2013

Bradley Kuhn wrote:
> The main "community" problem with proliferation is license

Hi Bradley,

That also exaggerates the problem. FOSS licenses are not generally
incompatible with each other for most important purposes. Except perhaps for
the GPL (because of the *linking* issue), anyone can create functional
collections of FOSS programs at will. Just don't try to create *derivative
works* by mixing them in that special and unusual way. 

There is no reason whatsoever why people can't combine MPL and CPL and OSL
and Apache and MIT and BSD (etc., etc.) FOSS programs with each other. And
even for the GPL, as with GPLv2 Linux or JBoss where the author states the
*linking* exception clearly, one can even combine that software into
collective works. 

How often is it truly necessary to make *derivative works* by intermixing
software? When was the last time you intermixed an Apache Open Office module
with a Linux driver, or a Mozilla plugin with an Eclipse tool, such as to
create a derivative work? But feel free to *combine* Open Office with Linux
with Mozilla with Eclipse to your heart's content. They are definitely not
incompatible in that way!


-----Original Message-----
From: Bradley M. Kuhn [mailto:bkuhn at ebb.org] 
Sent: Friday, August 23, 2013 9:20 AM
To: license-discuss at opensource.org
Subject: Re: [License-discuss] Open source license chooser
choosealicense.com launched.

Lawrence Rosen wrote at 16:47 (EDT) on Tuesday:
> Perhaps, but the license proliferation issue is not quite helpful when 
> phrased that way. It isn't that MORE licenses are necessarily bad. 
> Instead, say that the proliferation of BAD (or "me-too" or 
> "un-templated" or "legally questionable") licenses is bad.

The main "community" problem with proliferation is license incompatibility.
Mozilla Foundation and the FSF did some great work together to reconcile the
compatibility issues of the two most popular copylefts.  We need to ensure
that future license fit in the main compatibility, which I view as (from
weakest copyleft to strongest):

ISC => 2-clause-BSD => permissive-MIT License => Apache License => MPL =>
LGPL => GPL => Affero GPL

If new licenses can't drop in somewhere along that spectrum, it's a
proliferation problem, IMO.

I suspect, however, that for-profit corporate folks would disagree with this
as the primary problem here.  I know that company's legal department really
want to keep the license texts they must review quite low, and ISTR that was
the biggest complaint about license proliferation from for-profit entities.

It's hard to blame newcomers for wanting to draft their own licenses, as I
think it's highly difficult to become part of the Free Software license
policy discussion about existing licenses in practice *even* for would-be
   -- bkuhn
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