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Choosing a License: GNU APL? AFL 3.0?


Noah Slater has offered to make a debian package from some of my
software, but I'm having trouble choosing a DFSG compatible license. I
was wondering if debian-legal could help.

I'm looking for a permissive license, of the Modified BSD or MIT
variety, but I'd like for the copyright notices in each file to be
protected without having to include the whole license itself, if it's
more than a few lines.

The Modified BSD, for example, only protects "the above copyright
notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer", so a
simple notice that says "Licensed under the Modified BSD License"
wouldn't be protected unless I included the whole license in each
file. Therefore it's not sufficient.

One of the best license suggestions I've had so far, from Noah
himself, is the GNU All Permissive License:


But I'm not sure if this license is DFSG compatible, and it's not
listed as FSF or OSI approved (not that that's a surefire way of
telling whether something is DFSG compatible or not).

After a bit of poking about I decided to try my hand at making a
hybrid of the GNU APL and OSI approved Fair License; and in the
ensuing lengthy debate on OSI's license-review list, Larry Rosen
suggested that I use the Academic Free License 3.0.

I looked around a bit and found this said about the AFL 2.1:

"It seems that a rather clear consensus about the AFL is being formed
here at debian-legal: it doesn't comply with DFSG and it's
- http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2004/10/msg00263.html

Which is also my impression of how the AFL (2.1, at least) was
received here having read through the threads, but on the other hand
Rick Moen has told me that the AFL 3.0 is DFSG compliant:

"Both of those [OSL/AFL 3.0] comply with the DFSG."
- http://www.crynwr.com/cgi-bin/ezmlm-cgi?17:mmn:25

And he was willing to go into the nature of authority in the Debian
project--though I haven't yet taken up his offer of doing so, in
preference of actually, you know, asking debian-legal first :-)

To summarise my intent: I just want to add a couple of lines to each
file and be happy in the knowledge that people can do pretty much what
they want with my work except for removing the per-file attribution. I
like my packages to be modularly reusable and lean and pretty. The
license I choose has got to be unobtrusive and it's got to be a "keep
my name on this file" sort of thing; but beyond that, permissive.

I think that this is a FSF, OSI, and DFSG compatible requirement, but
I can't find a common license that supports it.

Perhaps the GNU APL is acceptable? Even its three lines is kinda long
for my tastes, however (I know, I know, I have ridiculous tastes). The
AFL 3.0 approach on the other hand seems to me a very good one, but
the license itself, in its 2.1 guise, is apparently very controversial
from the DFSG perspective. Also I was hoping for a more simple
BSD/MIT-like license text.

It's been suggested severally that I just use a notice to link to
whatever license I want, but remember that the linked license must in
that case protect the notice. Please read my badly explained
requirements carefully :-)

Probably I'm just hoping for the moon, but maybe someone can help me out here?


Sean B. Palmer, http://inamidst.com/sbp/

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