Spelling out the license - protesting too much
david at openpartnership.net
Wed Nov 23 04:47:37 CST 2005
I wish it were that simple!
A couple of last points from me on this (I retreat humbly flamed): I
have learned a couple of things from my stint working for Creative
Commons UK and on prior commercial work making compilations of works
- much of which was posted by the authors in the spirit of public
domain. The conclusion unfortunately was that it was not legal to
make such compilations unless you cleared the license of each and
every contribution explicitly and directly with the author - posting
to a general pubic email list did not qualify.
Worse, in many countries, public domain has no defined legal concept.
That is the author cannot waive their copyright by using any form of
public domain declaration. Creative Commons have gone to great length
to ensure their licenses work in the various (over 100) copyright
jurisdictions. It is no easy task.
As an aside - we had an interesting problem here in Vienna when the
non-commercial open channel wanted to screen public domain movies
from Archive.org. Not legal here - as they don't recognise public
domain! We had to get around the problem by making someone legally
responsible for the content and getting them to license the material
What does this mean? AFAIK it is not legal to take any code posted to
this list and include it in your own work (commercial or not). The
original author of the work can at any time refuse to allow you to
use their code, or demand payment - not good news if you have to pull
your product due to a court order while the offending code / content
is found and patched. This is not a real world problem for small
pieces of code, but for any compilation or library derived from many
such contributions - this is a real problem and one which stops any
real organised effort to create such compilations.
On 22 Nov 2005, at 21:37, Chipp Walters wrote:
> I suspect one could interpret your obsession with licensing, as
> also an obsession with enforcing said licensing. I suggest you post
> your 'protected' code on your website and provide a link to it.
> Not only is it easier to enforce licensing practice from your
> website, but it also keeps the use-list smaller. I, for one, am not
> interested in reading (or having on my computer in an email) any of
> your code which has your prefixed licensing terms.
A caveat - I really don't like license debates especially when they
get heated (Chipp your reply was a little loaded) - I posted the
Creative Commons license (not such an evil thing after all) clearly
marked as an example. To avoid list clutter it would be a simple
policy to add a license url to the default email header, and to add a
EULA to the email list sign up process - that way everyone is clear
what the terms of posting code to the list are.
> I agree with you.
> Mathewson wrote:
>> Framkly software should be either FREE (and any proprietary
>> elements within FREE software items should be 'bound up' in
>> such a way that to reverse engineer them would take such a
>> long time that it would be counterproductive) or UNFREE (as
>> in, totally bound up in legla clauses cooked up by highly
>> paid lawyers).
>> FREE software shouldn't need any licenses - Creative
>> Commons, GNU, Rampantly Oversexed Wrathog, or what ever.
>> FREE means FREE.
>> So those of us interested in producing FREE software should
>> get on and produce it; and include a nice little READ ME
>> document that says something rather like:
>> "This is FREE, do with it what you like"
>> and those of us who are interested in producing software
>> for which they want money should get on and produce it; and
>> include blatant signals that it is UNFREE.
>> Blast licences!
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