Re: Licenses for Dummies
on Wed, May 21, 2003 at 10:26:58AM -0700, Bill Moseley (email@example.com) wrote:
> I figure there's people here that can help point me to good resources.
> I've read LGPL and GPL and the "why not use LGPL" page. Still, I'm not that clear in
> simple terms what is allowed. And also how BSD or Apache or Artistic compare.
> Can someone point me to a good page for explaining the licenses -- other than to the
> actual licenses.
Please set your mailer/editor linewrap to 68-75 characters. I strongly
recommend 72 as a good default.
The GNU licenses page is pretty good for describing licenses, briefly,
according to its own typology (largely: free or non-free, and for free,
GPL compatible or not).
_Open Source, the Unauthorized White Papers_, aside from a really
gwadawful title, is a good overview of licensing, as is _Open Sources_
The license-discuss mailing list (hosted by Open Source Initiative), the
fsl-discuss legal issues mailing list (which I moderate:
http://lists.alt.org/ for info), and the gnu.misc.discuss Usenet group
are other useful sources.
Note that in my experience, most licensing questions result in the
- Don't write your own license. Applies doubly if you have a lawyer.
Triply if you _are_ a lawyer. It's a bad idea, mostl often poorly
executed, and tends to be money (and lots of it) wasted. 85%+ of
software is licensed, or available under, the GNU GPL or LGPL, the
bulk of the remainder under BSD/MIT, Artistic, MozPL, or similar
licenses. All other licenses are basically line noise at ~2-3% of
licensed works (confirm yourself against the Sourceforge archive or
Debian's own /usr/share/doc/*/copyright files).
- Use one or more of the GNU GPL, the LGPL, the BSD (GPL compatible),
or MozPL licenses.
- If you're considering free software distribition of software *you
wholly wrote or wholly control copyright for*, and want to retain
rights to commercially distribute the same work, look at a dual
license under GPL, plus your proprietary license, and get copyright
assignment from your external developers. This is the path followed
by Alladin Ghostscript, Red Hat Cygwin, Mozilla, OpenOffice.org /
StarOffice, TrollTech Qt, and other projects. Note that the GPL
gives you *more* commercial protection than the LGPL, particularly
for libraries (eg: Cygwin/CYGWIN32.DLL). The Sleepycat / berkeleydb
licensing model is another one to look at.
And lastly: continue this discussion on a different list.
IANAL, TINLA, YADA.
Karsten M. Self <firstname.lastname@example.org> http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up, because I
wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak
up, because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I
didn't speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.
-- Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945