[License-discuss] Any Free License, an open source license

Christopher Allan Webber cwebber at dustycloud.org
Sun Nov 15 14:40:25 UTC 2015

Mike Milinkovich writes:

> I have a sort of meta-problem with this idea. The OSI approves licenses. 
> IANAL, but to me this is not a license. It does not by itself grant any 
> rights. Therefore I wonder if it is even valid for consideration?

Well, you aren't the only one to have a meta-problem with it; I do too,
and yet I'm the submitter.  "Is it a license" is one of the questions I
mused over, a kind of copyright existentialism (what, like, is a license
anyway man?).  Is it valid?  For consideration, maybe or maybe not.
It's probably valid legally; the source of inspiration for this was
considering the "compatible license" provisions of the CC licenses:

  BY-SA Compatible License means a license listed at
  http://creativecommons.org/compatiblelicenses, approved by Creative
  Commons as essentially the equivalent of this Public License.

I don't mean to knock this; I think this provision has done great good
(as some here know, I was a long-time advocate of CC BY-SA and GPL
compatibility, and I'm relieved to see one-way compatibility achieved at
last).  But it's a good source of musing.

I suppose, in that last sentence, I have revealed my hand.  It is only
the worst kind of magician that reveals the method behind their act, but
that is but one brief hobby of mine from middle school I am afraid I had
to give up: the basis of the craft on not revealing source came into
contradiction of later philosophical beliefs of mine.  Comedy, it seems,
is another middle school craft that I probably should have laid to rest.
It is only the worst kind of comedian that, standing eel-faced before
their audience, waits for their audience to get their jokes, and then
worrying that they don't, proceeds to explain them.

Which is all to say, I am neither a good magician, nor a good comedian.
Despite this, there are at least 20 jokes hidden in my original email.
For those who enjoy scavenger hunts over spectral eggs, happy hunting.

Nonetheless, it was not all a joke.  In my original email, I said This
Is Not A Troll.  I figured this more than anything would tip my hand,
but not all are familiar with that phrase, and I can't speak for its
original author, but perhaps I should have said: "This Is Not Merely A
Troll".  I think, as legalcode, it's probably sufficient, and if you're
interested in using it, go for it!  It's more or less the un-unlicense.

More seriously, I hoped to reveal some serious points for
consideration.  Some, in replying to this thread, have already raised
some of the issues I hoped to in my email.  Though I've spoiled the
acts, I won't spoil the scavenger hunt, except for one... Rob Myers
(there are co-conspirators to my original post who will remain
anonymous, but Rob was not one of them, so no charges should be placed
against him) provided an excellent follow-up:

  "v2 should also include nonfree licenses."

I'd argue that v1 already does.  That's one egg revealed: the Any Free
License claims to provide maximum freedoms by encompassing all freedoms
of all other licenses.  In consideration of Rob's suggestion to upgrade
(hereby marked WONTFIX NOTABUG WORKSFORME), I'd pause for consideration
on what constitutes maximum freedom.  In covering "any" free license, in
so few words, Any Free License covers so many words of legal language.
Well, many submissions in pursuit of "maximum freedom" for our licensing
consideration have taken the opposite approach, reducing their verbiage
in pursuit of the fewest terms.  It's a worthwhile goal to have these
licenses, but it's interesting when one of the arguments for having the
fewest terms is in compatibility with a much more proprietary set of
legalcode.  In light of Rob's suggestion (and my implication that it's
already included), I encourage reflection on whether this is really
"maximum freedom" at all.

If that's not enough to satisfy your omelet, I assure you there are
other eggs to crack in the original post.

Well, by the end of this, I have revealed that I am the worst type of
comedian in yet another way, by laughing at my own joke.  Ha ha, only
serious, I should say.

One more jape:

Rick Moen writes:

> Quoting Christopher Allan Webber (cwebber at dustycloud.org):
>> Rick Moen writes:
>> > CC0 is _likely_ to pass certification if it were re-submitted
>> > (having been withdrawn by submitter
>> <<Citation Needed>>
> Well, read it.  Especially read the fallback permissive licence, 
> that being the main point.  It's really pretty much a classic of that
> form, _and_ (unlike WTFPL and Unlicense) extremely well drafted.
> Commenters on license-review disliked CC0 going out of its way to state
> that there are _no_ patent rights conveyed, instead of the approach
> taken by most permissive licences of eschewing comment on that subject,
> but that misfeature doesn't make it proprietary.

I didn't return to read that thread, because I'm afraid I'm all too
familiar with it.  Which is to say: check the headers on who submitted
and withdrew.  I won't... while I'm still interested in a revision to
CC0 that could be accepted on this list, and which resolves what I do
think are valid concerns raised, I lost a good month of my life
agonizing over it the last time.

But it did supply a good source of inspiration for this post.

That's it, enjoy the show, I'm here all week.

 - cwebb

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