[License-discuss] a Free Island Public License?

Bruce Perens bruce at perens.com
Fri Dec 16 23:24:36 UTC 2011

OSI should deny certification of this license for the reasons already 
discussed, and because:

     It is not the product of a legal professional.

I've been calling these "crayon licenses", taking a line from an old 
Monty Python sketch about a dog license with the word "dog" crossed out 
and "cat" written in, in crayon.

Crayon, in this case, is a metaphor for the poor legal qualification of 
the authors. Crayon licenses show a lack of understanding of copyright 
law, license structure, and most important: what would happen if the 
license were to be interpreted in court. We had an excuse for writing 
such things in the early days of Open Source when no lawyer would help 
us. /We no longer have that excuse./

Crayon licenses harm Open Source developers because they don't do what 
the developer expects. My most poignant experience with one was working 
on the appeal of /Jacobsen v. Katzer. /Bob Jacobsen, an innocent Open 
Source developer, essentially lost his case in the lower court due to 
the poor drafting of the Artistic License 1.0, one of the initial Open 
Source licenses, when the judge found it to be tantamount to the public 
domain. This loss would also have been very damaging to Open Source in 
general, had it been allowed to stand. Bob suffered /very/ significant 
damage from this case. We are very fortunate that he persevered, and 
that we were able to overturn the decision on appeal.

OSI should no longer approve crayon licenses, due to the potential they 
have to damage our own community.


     Bruce Perens
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