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

"Sean B. Palmer" <sean@miscoranda.com> writes:

> Noah Slater has offered to make a debian package from some of my
> software, but I'm having trouble choosing a DFSG compatible license.

Thanks for your desire to contribute, and for your effort in gathering
information before choosing license terms for your work.

> 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.

I'm not sure I take your meaning in "copyright notices" being
"protected". Copyright law protects any creative work (with
jurisdiction-specific exceptions), not the legal notice on that work.

> The Modified BSD, for example, only protects "the above copyright
> notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer"

No, the 3-clause BSD license (like any copyright license) *grants
permission* to perform acts that are otherwise restricted by copyright
law. It is copyright law that, in the absence of any license, protects
the entire work.

The clause you're referring to is part of a condition on exercise of
the permissions granted by the license: that the specific texts it
refers to must be retained in the redistributed work.

I'm not sure how you got the idea that only certain parts of the work
are restricted; it's copyright law that does the restricting, *not*
the license terms.

> 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.

I'm fairly sure you'll find many examples of works that do exactly
that. So long as the license terms are explicit for every part of the
work, and unambiguous once received, the Debian project treats them as
the actual license terms for the work.

It's best, of course, to ensure the license terms themselves are
distributed along with the work; but this doesn't mean they need to be
part of every single file in the work. The instructions for use
accompanying the GNU GPL are the classic example of how to indicate
the license terms in every file without *including* the license terms
in every file.

> 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

This is usually ill-advised. Please check again whether the license
terms of any of the popular, well-understood free-software licenses
are acceptable. The 3-clause BSD license that you already like would
be fine, and can be *applied* to every file without necessarily being
*included* in every file. Merely *referencing* the exact license terms
unambiguously in each file should be sufficient.

> 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 :-)

I hope I've explained above that it's not the *license* that does
this, but copyright law itself. You, as copyright holder in your work,
are free to choose license terms and put an appropriate copyright
notice in your files when you distribute them. If you grant permission
to redistribute at all, it's copyright law that requires that notice
to be included in any redistributions of that work until you
explicitly give permission to the contrary.

 \      "[...] a Microsoft Certified System Engineer is to information |
  `\     technology as a McDonalds Certified Food Specialist is to the |
_o__)                               culinary arts." —Michael Bacarella |
Ben Finney

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