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Re: New 'Public Domain' Licence

On Sun, Jun 05, 2005 at 07:08:23PM -0400, Raul Miller wrote:
> On 6/3/05, Glenn Maynard <glenn@zewt.org> wrote:
> > You mean that the "problem" is that permissive licenses don't serve the
> > goals of a copyleft?  They're not supposed to.  The goal (or at least
> > one very common goal) of permissive licenses is to encourage free use
> > of code, and it's understandable that people with this philosophy don't
> > want to force people to include a useless license block, either.
> These two statements are at odds with each other.  I think it's confusing 
> and misleading to claim otherwise.

Sorry, I don't know which two statements you're referring to.  A major goal
of copyleft is to guarantee that anyone that receives a binary both receives
the source, the ability to use it (eg. no additional restrictions), and
knowledge that they can do so.  These aren't goals of permissive licenses,
and that's not a bug.

> Fundamentally, the goal of public domain is to allow arbtrary non-free 
> use of the material.  And the same basic goal holds for near public-
> domain licenses.  This is why you see legal professionals in the field 
> of copyright warning people that public domain probably isn't what 
> they want.

No disagreement here (except the implication that non-free use is the
only goal--the goal is free use everywhere, and non-free use is just
part of "everywhere").  Permissive licenses are close to public domain,
and reasons for using the two are similar.

> Free use is also allowed.  But if that was the crucial goal, the GPL would 
> be quiet adequate.

If you wish your code to be freely usable, in as many contexts and by as
many people as possible, the GPL isn't in the running.  The GPL very
deliberately makes a trade: in exchange for less free use (eg. more
restrictions), it tries to encourage "giving code back to the commons"
and all that.  GPL-licensed code is not usable, for example, in proprietary
software; or even in mostly-free programs that simply have a few GPL-
incompatible plugins for interoperability (eg. OpenSSL).

That's not a bug, of course; it's explicitly intended to discourage
proprietary development, and many people who use the GPL actively wish
to do so, and don't consider that restriction a problem.  That's fine.
But people who don't wish to do so--who, in contrast, don't consider
proprietary use of code a problem, and wish to minimize political,
practical and legal barriers to reuse--often prefer permissive licenses.
If that's your philosophy, then you may well not want to force people
to include your 20-line license, either, since that can introduce
practical problems.  (I'm not sure why this seems to be a controversial
statement; it seems self-evident to me.)

Glenn Maynard

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