[License-review] Octopus License

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Jan 9 08:39:19 UTC 2017

Mr. Purpose (er, Mr. purpose), for reference, your text is here:

Quoting dialog purpose (dialogpurpose at gmail.com):

> Because Octopus License allows people to make modification and need not to
> follow the terms, which makes them to fully own their modified product and
> pretend they wrote it, The MIT or BSD or any other copyfree license do not
> have this feature. 

To be clear, Octopus License does not allow people to pretend that they
wrote the work accepted under licence.  To the contrary, it requires
retention of the upstream work's copyright notices and the text of
Octopus License.

As an aside, stripping copyright notices violately various sorts of tort
law even without such a clause, so it's pretty pointless to require
explicitly retention of copyright notices.  See, for example (in the
USA) 17 U.S.C. 1202, 'Integrity of copyright management information'.

I'm guessing your 'pretend they wrote it' sentence (above) is supposed
to refer to this sentence in your licence:

  Modifications to this software may be copyrighted by their authors 
  and need not follow the licensing terms described here, provided 
  that the new terms are clearly indicated on the first page of
  each file where they apply.

First of all, this contradicts the earlier part of your licence.
In the prior sentence, you say the derivative work must retain all
existing copyright notices and the Octopus License text, but now you
say that the existing licence conditions, including the prior sentence,
needn't apply at all.  Which is it?

Second, your phrase 'may be copyrighted' suggests you are confused about
copyright and software.  You speak as if the author can elect to
'copyright' to work or not.  The fact is, with narrow exceptions, all
creative works in covered categories become automatically subject to
copyright encumbrance at the moment of creation in fixed form, and
ownership over it vests in the creator (likewise automatically).

So, with narrow exceptions, the modifications _will_ be copyrighted
(and not 'by their authors' in the sense of them needing to do anything
to bring the situation about).  Maybe you're one of those people vaguely
remembering the time before the Berne Convention, when title to
copyrighted works could become expunged.

In any event, as has already been observed, the substance of what you
appear to want, or at least the portion achievable in a world where
copyright arises and vests automatically, is already available to you
through maximally permissive licences like MIT License.  So, use that,
and also study some software law.

> Octopus License is very clear for describing warrenty, as you might
> already saw that in the bottom of the lcense is says the authors have
> no obligation to provide or continue update, support, fix bugs or
> anything else.

I'm guessing that the word 'describing', here, was meant to be
'disclaiming'.  Again, MIT License already gives you that.

I regret to say, Mr. purpose, that, in my view, your licence is not well
drafted, and lacks a credible rationale.  (Nor did you compare/contrast
with similar OSI-approved licences, nor recommend a
license-proliferation category.)  Please consider reading one of the
several good books on open source licensing.

OSI folk:  I note without objection that the handle
'dialogpurpose at gmail.com' sans name appears to have been created 
for this inquiry.  

Cheers,                 "The crows seemed to be calling his name, thought Caw."
Rick Moen                                     -- Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy 
rick at linuxmafia.com 
McQ! (4x80)        

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