Simplified Artistic License [osd]

Karsten M. Self kmself at
Tue Oct 15 05:44:20 UTC 2002

on Tue, Oct 08, 2002, Robert Samuel White (webmaster at wrote:
> Larry, I can't afford an attorney, as you already know.  And I cannot
> use one of the existing licenses because it does not feel right to me
> to do so.  

These are constraints imposed by you.  You're welcome to live with the
consequences.  Don't ask the rest of us to be particularly concerned.

I'd strongly suggest relaxing one or more of your constraints.

> I'm creating this software from my heart.  I've delayed releasing it
> because of the license issue.  As soon as I release my software under
> a specific license, I have effectively branded its terms and
> conditions for use and distribution.  

You have and you haven't.  Mostly the latter IMO.

As the author of a work, and so long as you either remain sole author or
secure sufficient copyright assignment or rights, you are free to
release the software under any terms of your chosing, whether free,
proprietary, or some 'tween ground.  Your license binds third parties,
not (by and large) yourself.

The sense that you _are_ committed is in that your license sets the tone
for expectations of others.  If you license under a particular set of
terms, then change your mind down the road -- whether this is toward
more or less liberal terms -- you will almost certainly receive much and
harsh criticism.   There are a number of examples of sole authors of
code who've had licensing terms of their own authorship, who've created
significant downstream issues for users of their software by either
changing terms or interpretation of their license.  Examples which come
to mind are OpenBSD's ipfilters software (rewritten from scratch
following a license change), qmail (dropped from OpenBSD following a
change in licensing interpretation), and BitKeeper (never free software,
but recently terms for use of the gratis product were significantly

Both end-users and developers should be extremely averse to new
licenses, particularly those which emerge from sources or organizations
which have little prior visibility or track record.  Terms of the
"major" software licenses are well established, well understood, and
would seem to be largely stable due to institutional pressures.  While
the licenses may not be ideal for all uses, they are good enough for
many uses, and a reasonable compromise of interests.



Karsten M. Self <kmself at>
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
   Get yer Asterix here:
    <a href="">Asterix</a>
    <a href="">Obelix</a>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 189 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <>

More information about the License-discuss mailing list