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Re: Choosing a License: GNU APL? AFL 3.0?



On Sun, 30 Dec 2007 08:55:12 +0000 Sean B. Palmer wrote:

> Hello,

Hi!

> 
> 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 would be happy to 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.

My usual recommendation for these needs is the Expat license:
http://www.jclark.com/xml/copying.txt
However, it seems that it is already too long for your tastes!  :-O

[...]
> One of the best license suggestions I've had so far, from Noah
> himself, is the GNU All Permissive License:
> 
> http://www.gnu.org/prep/maintain/html_node/License-Notices-for-Other-Files.html

I'll quote it here fully, for future reference:

| Copying and distribution of this file, with or without modification,
| are permitted in any medium without royalty provided the copyright
| notice and this notice are preserved.

> 
> But I'm not sure if this license is DFSG compatible,

I don't see a reason why it should fail the DFSG.
I think a work solely licensed under the terms of this license does
fully comply with the DFSG.

Disclaimers: IANAL, TINLA, IANADD, TINASOTODP.

> 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.

Writing new licenses is in general strongly recommended against,
because:

 a) writing a good license is a long and very hard task
 b) license proliferation is bad (since it adds to licensing complexity
    and confusion, and balkanizes the Free Software community whenever
    license incompatibilities occur) and should be avoided as often as
    possible

> 
> 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
> GPL-incompatible."
> - http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2004/10/msg00263.html

Frankly, I don't remember the details, but a quick glance of the cited
thread seems to reveal that I was not the only one that reached that
conclusion.

> 
> 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 :-)

Well, in my understanding, debian-legal acts as a sort of advisory
board: we discuss about a topic, (hopefully) reach a consensus, and then
decision-makers (i.e.: FTP-masters) decide.

If Rick Moen means that, I think he's right, even though the politeness
of his message could have been improved...

I cannot comment on the AFL 3.0, since I haven't analyzed it.

> 
> 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 the simple license that you called "GNU All Permissive License"
satisfies your requirements.
If the 2-line-length constraint is so important, well, who said that
those two lines have to be 70 column long?  You could use more columns
and make the license text fit in two lines!  ;-)


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

I hope this helps.

> 
> Thanks,

You're welcome.


-- 
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