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Re: What "new name" means?

On Thursday 30 January 2003 03:41 am, Juhapekka Tolvanen wrote:
> It seems, that some licences require, that modified versions of original
> work must have new name. For example Design Science Licence is like
> that
> But what constitutes "new name"?
> If I release some poem called "Ode to Buffer Overflow" under DSL, and
> some guy called Joe "Random" Poet creates modified version of it, which
> of these names would be acceptable for that modified version?:
> - Ode to Buffer Overflow (Joe "Random" Poet Remix)
> - Ode to Buffer Overflow (version 1.0-Random-1.0)
> - Ode to Buffer Overflow revisited by Random

The important point is to correctly identify a modified version as a distinct 
work.  If you want changes to be folded into the original work, you should 
submit them to the author or get their permission.  Otherwise, you need to
release under a name which is sufficiently different so as to not confuse
potential readers/viewers/users that it is the original author's work.

The "social engineering" of this, is that DSL-type licenses want to have 
fewer, more complete releases. That's not good for every sort of work, of 
course, but it makes sense for novels or movies, for example.  If I'm reading
a novel, I want to know *who wrote it* and *what the author's voice is*. 
I don't want to accidentally read some "fixed" version, unless I know for
certain that's what it is.

Think about the "sanitized" versions of *Mother Goose* that became popular a 
few years back.  Sure, cutting off the mice's tails ("three blind mice") was 
gruesome, but if you're going to change it to protect sensitive little 
imaginations, you should call it "New Mother Goose" or something, and not 
bill it as the original.[1]

This is a defense of the author's "moral rights" in places where there is no
legally defined moral right in a work (which includes the USA, for example -- 
in fact it is only in the EU that I have heard of "moral rights" being 

The DSL doesn't "prevent" "perversions" of the original work, but it can 
insist that they are not labeled the same as the original, which could damage 
the original author's reputation.

This is (IMHO) only sensible for creative content works which might carry 
some significant political or emotional impact.  (I can think of edge cases 
for software, but in the main, programs are very objective, and there's 
little reason to demand such protection).  I think if we could think of a
legal way to define it, we'd specify that such name changes were only
important for "content" changes and not "structure" or "formatting" changes.  
(e.g. changing a fullscreen movie to letterbox format shouldn't force the 
change).  Unfortunately, that's way too fuzzy to put into a license, since
opinions of what is and is not content are very subjective.

Anyway, the reason I'm rehashing the reasoning is that it ought to be 
reasonably clear from this purpose what needs to happen with a name change.  
I think putting a subtitle in parentheses or adding a prefix is fine:

Ode to Buffer Overflow (revisited)
New Ode to Buffer Overflow
Ode to Buffer Overflow ('03 remix)
Joe Random's Ode to Buffer Overflow

But merely appending a version number:

Ode to Buffer Overflow (1.2)

is not really okay, because mere numbering does not show you that it's a 
fork. Instead, it implies that it is in the main branch.

If you think about it, people do this for GPL stuff too, it's just not 
*required*.  "Xemacs" and "emacs" forked a long time ago, and we need 
separate names to distinguish them.  Likewise "ghostview" and "gv".

Note that we're not talking about ever single version changing -- all 
versions approved by a given author may have the same name.

You could probably get this kind of protection by trademarking the name, too, 
of course.

Caveat -- I didn't write this license (Michael Stutz did), but I did use it 
for a project of mine. I chose the GPL for a game engine and DSL for the game 
content to play on it.  (Unfortunately that project's currently dead).  
Artists are very dependent on (and sensitive to) reputation issues. No one 
wants their work misrepresented. Nor do they want "inferior hack jobs" passed 
off as their work.  "This is Joe Random's 'Mona Lisa with moustache', not Da 
Vinci's original 'Mona Lisa'". ;-D  The DSL is a compromise between GPL-like 
complete freedom to modify and the possessive "don't fool with my work" 
positions.  Having some control over this is a good motivator for creative 
types, who might well feel violated by changes that would be perfectly okay 
under the GPL (and which probably wouldn't bother programmers).


[1]Some pedant may well note that "Mother Goose" is public domain, so is not 
protected by any such requirement. I am of course speaking in the 
subjunctive: if it *were* under the DSL this particular abuse would not be 

Terry Hancock ( hancock at anansispaceworks.com )
Anansi Spaceworks  http://www.anansispaceworks.com

"Some things are too important to be taken seriously"

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