[DEP-5] Short license names (was: Re: DEP-5: query about possible inheritence of License:)
Le Mon, Sep 14, 2009 at 12:48:04PM +0200, Stefano Zacchiroli a écrit :
> Question on this (because the current draft does not look particularly
> clear on that topic, at least to my own reading): is it true that
> arbitrary keywords can be used in License fields to reference license
> blocks expanded later on or not? In particular, I'm worried about the
> case where there are different "other" licenses in a given package, that
> still need to be reused. Can we in those cases use, e.g., "other1",
> "other2", etc., or possibly even more telling names?
I added the ’Other’ short name in order to allow to leave the first line of the
license field empty when the license is so unique that it does not make sense to
invent a short name that would not mean much to people if it were displayed. In
case of collecting statistics, I thought that ‘Other’ would fit better than an
But thanks to your email, I realise that this would lead to information loss,
for instance if using the machine-readable copyright file, a parser would print
the list of all the files with their license; in complex cases it would not be
possible to know if two files have the same ‘Other’ license.
Given that identifiers like ‘Other1’, ’Other2’… are ugly or even confusing, and
that the machine-readable format has the goal to be very human-readable as
well, I propose to remove the default to ’other’ from the DEP and leave the
responsability of dealing with empty first lines to the parsers. Of course, for
licenses that have no short name proposed by the DEP, the person writing the
copyright file is free to pick whatever makes sense instead of leaving the
field empty. You nicely summarised this in the patch you sent previously.
I would like to take the opportunity to make a few additional comments on
license short names. This is one part of the proposal where a lot of things
from the old wiki version were reworked and simplified. I invite the
contributors of the wiki page to check the current version on the DEP website
and tell us if they have concerns with our changes.
First, for the BSD licenses, it became clear from this spring’s discussions
that each variant is a completely different license given that it requires to
cite different copyrights and forbids to use different names for advertisement
or endorsement, and that factorising them would infringe them. Therefore, the
parts of the proposal for doing a fine classification were dropped, in favor of
calling these licences by their name.
Second, since having a formal short name syntax to distinguish the BSD licenses
by their variations was not possible, we removed the part of the proposal
describing a formal grammar for the short names, whose purpose was to extend
Nevertheless, this leaves us in a situation where the machine-readable format
can not indicate that a license is derived from a very frequent template such
as the BSD license. For that case, I think that we could add a ’Similar to’
qualifier, like in the following example:
Copyright: © 2009 John Doe Corporation
License: similar to BSD
All rights reserved.
Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions
1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
3. Neither the name of the John Doe Corporation nor the names of its contributors
may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software
without specific prior written permission.
THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE REGENTS AND CONTRIBUTORS ``AS IS'' AND
[Disclaimer cut here, but would be included in real life]
Then, for the most common license templates, the DEP could provide an annex
describing which parts are allowed to differ in order to be called ’similar’ It
could disallow the use of ’Similar to’ for the licenses not listed in the
This would avoid to have to invent arbitrary names for rare licenses, but does
not solve the problem that there can be many ’similar’ but different licenses
in the same package. Again, the parsers could do some work behind the scene to
address that issue in a way that fits their function (display, statistics,
Have a nice day,
PS: please notify me in private if you think I am using the wrong list for this
discussion, or if you think that I should keep on posting on -devel even if
others think I am using the wrong list…
Tsurumi, Kanagawa, Japan