Open Source Content License (OSCL) - Other/Miscellaneous licenses

Rick Moen rick at
Sat Apr 19 04:31:07 UTC 2008

Quoting Andrew Wilson (andrew.wilson at

> And so they did, but now they don't, preferring GFDL for all
> their human-readable documentation since 2001.

Um, I didn't bother to mention that because (1) I figured out everyone
here had already heard about that ad nauseam, and (2) it's stated in
sentence #2 of the page whose link I provided.

My point was -- as I would have thought obvious -- that FSF _had_ used a
variety of software-focussed licences for text for an extremely long
time, right up until their sudden afflatus for GFDL.

> Their current guidelines are the same as my recommendation: see

No, that is _not_ the same as your recommendation.  You recommended
eschewing use of software licences for text, for initially unstated
reasons, and using licences developed specifically for that purpose.
They recommend either GFDL or "your choice of free software license" for
texts that contain "nontrivial examples of program code".

[On what grounds?]

> Well, since you asked, it's not that I think you couldn't in principle
> apply OSI-approved SW licenses to other forms of copyrightable
> material, it's that I think there are compliance issues in practice.

Um, it's not just possible "in principle":  It's done all the time.

> Take new-BSD.  Sure, new-BSD allows you to redistribute in source and
> make modifications. So far, so good.  But, it also requires you to
> reproduce the entire license text, including THE FULL DISCLAIMER OF
> WARRANTY IN SCREAMING ALL CAPS LIKE THIS.  Reproducing an excerpt with
> attribution but sans full license is not allowed.

To you, this is a "problem".  To those of us who specifically wish that
the applicable licence terms travel with the work instance, it's a

(Moreover, there are good software-based licences that lack that
requirement, useful for those who do _not_ wish to ensure that licence
terms travel with the covered work.)

> GPL has the same problem....

Same feature.

> And then there's the ever-popular debate over the scope of GPL
> copyleft, which is confusing enough for code and for which there is
> absolutely no case law, to my knowledge, for guidance on
> human-readable GPL'd text.

I fail to see how the court-defined concept of derivative work in any
way depends on choice of licence.

> There are certain types of documents where it is vitally important
> that text must be preserved as-is with no editing allowed.

In such cases, clearly _no_ type of free licensing will suffice, and
whether such licences are software-focussed is irrelevant.

> All in all, it seems like good practice to use a SW license for SW and
> a text license for text.

In my view, FWIW, you have failed to support this assertion with any
credible reasoning.  {shrug}  Horses for courses.

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