FOR APPROVAL - Python License Changes

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at
Wed May 25 20:47:20 UTC 2011

Van, I've never really understood the Python licensing situation. It was there before I arrived on the scene (guess how old that makes it!) and I decided to just let it be without questioning its provenance.

Most FOSS software nowadays is composed of contributions under different licenses from many authors. Most distributors aggregate those works and distribute that software under a single license (perhaps even GPL or Apache). So what is unique about Python that it still requires multiple licenses for its distribution? Can't the Python Foundation find a single license that covers the entire Python collective or derivative work that they are now distributing? Hopefully an existing license so that we can limit proliferation....


> -----Original Message-----
> From: VanL [mailto:van.lindberg at]
> Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 12:36 PM
> To: license-review at
> Subject: Re: FOR APPROVAL - Python License Changes
> On 5/25/2011 11:00 AM, josh at wrote:
> > Van,
> >
> > Speaking as a user, and not as an attorney, is it really necessary to
> > have 3 different licenses for Python?  Not that much of anyone uses
> > 1.6.1, but users are going to expect even old versions of Python to
> be
> > under the same license as new versions, and be pretty surprised when
> > they're not.
> >
> > If there are legal reasons why you can't reconcile these licenses,
> > then at the very least you're going to need an extensive FAQ about
> it.
> >  I'm also not keen on 3 separate licenses from an anti-proliferation
> > standpoint.  You can tell people that two of them are depreciated,
> but
> > as a PostgreSQL project member I'll tell you that does no good at
> all.
> >
> > I'm sure you've had these discussions on python mailing lists, so if
> > you could post a link we could read up and not force you to rehash
> the
> > same arguments.
> This is being driven by a couple different things. First, and
> primarily,
> there are a few projects to reconcile the various licenses and have
> unique identifiers for each. They were the ones that initially
> approached us about getting this done. The board of the PSF agreed, so
> here we are.
> Second, I hear you about license proliferation, but this is not
> creating
> *new* licenses, really. It is recognizing the various legacy licenses
> that are already there.
> Third, from a Python perspective, we were having people putting stuff
> out "under the Python license" or "under the PSF license."  I want that
> to be well-defined, without having weird things in the license like
> having a specified (and for a non-Python project, wrong) copyright
> holder.
> Thanks,
> Van

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