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Re: perl modules' default licence

On Wed, Aug 06, 2003 at 10:52:54PM +0100, Nicholas Clark wrote:


> > > The GPL refers to the GPL "as published by the Free Software
> > > Foundation", but you're not saying here what counts as a version of
> > > Perl. For example, if someone creates a public-domain implementation
> > > of some extended subset of Perl, is that sufficient to make the
> > > modules public-domain?
> > >
> > 
> > Oops, that should be there too, the trouble is to formally
> > denote the proper organization, given that:
> > 
> > The organization surrounding Standard Perl has changed in the
> > past, and may change again.  Perl 5 is copyright Larry Wall,
> > Perl 6 is in development and copyright The Perl Foundation.
> > 
> > Larry Wall is a human being and will probably die before the
> > copyright on new modules expire.
> > 
> > The Perl Foundation is a unit of YAS, not a separate entity.
> > 
> > Demanding that the Perl version in question be derived from
> > Standard Perl would appear a good choice, except that perl6 will
> > apparently be a ground-up rewrite, at may not call its release
> > "Standard Perl".
> You're correct - perl6 is a ground up re-write. The copyright is assigned
> to TPF rather than Larry Wall, but with the same licensing as Perl 5
> (dual Artistic/GPL). I agree that with this it means that it's not possible
> to canonically say who is the official Perl 6, particularly if someone
> forks it, and hence who determines the "later version" of the licence.
> Would it be easier to only specify "later" in terms of Perl 5?
> (given that Perl 5 licensing is determined by Larry Wall, who is
> unambiguously identifiable as the "official" source)
> So:
>     This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
>     modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.  Either Perl
>     version 5.8.3 or, at your option, any later version of Perl 5
>     you may have available.
> I'm only asking about the default text in new modules - any author who
> wants to change this to encompass Perl 6 is free to do so. We only need
> to nail down "official" Perl 6 for the purposes of "later version" by
> the time Perl 6 comes out, rather than now.

Sorry, but this is a very bad idea!

The whole idea of deferring to someone central (like Larry or TPF
or FSF or even <humor>the BSA</humor>) is that when things
change in a big way (like switching from GPLv7 to a competing
licence), it is unnecessary to contact all those who have
contributed modules or patches for modules, especially those
contributors who did not worry too much about copyright.

Thus if the default text does not defer to someone who can be
expected to remain around as long as the copyright (each author
and patchers death + (currently) 70 years, expect up to roughly
200 years), then there is little point deferring at all.  If you
just want to defer to a single current entity, while keeping it
simple, too options come to mind:

a) One step ahead:  Defer to the TPF, even though the TPF does
not have a complete perl6 yet.  Being a foundation / society,
TPF/YAS has at least the potential to exist for centuries to
come.  One way would be for TPF to release a "dummy"
non-functional Perl6 version 5.99.1, which serves no real
purpose except as a holding place for licence and similar

b) Double indirection:  Do defer to Perl5, then when Perl6 is
all set to go, make Larry make a special release of perl5 in
which the important change is for Perl5 to delegate its licence
to Perl6.  Actually, this may be triple indirection if Perl6
still makes a partial delegation to the FSF for the GPL.

It would also be important for Larry to make arrangements
regarding what happens to Perl5 and its licence after his death,
may it not come anytime soon.

Just trying to help



This message is hastily written, please ignore any unpleasant wordings,
do not consider it a binding commitment, even if its phrasing may
indicate so. Its contents may be deliberately or accidentally untrue.
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