Chinese Menu Licensing?
Mar 30, 2006
11:05 AM EDT
|Just what rights might I want to give away with my software, or keep to myself? There are a lot of choices for licenses out there. But that can be confusing. Just what is different about each license?
I think what it comes down to (and this a bit of a simplification, too) is a set of rights that the owner of the original may choose to let you have along with that software. These rights can be things like a right to use it (anyone know of a license that doesn't include that one?), a right to make copies for yourself, a right to make copies and give them away, a right make copies and sell them, a right to make changes and give that away, a right to put your own name on it and claim it is yours, and so on. Not all licenses grant every right. For example, GPL does not grant a right to someone to give away or sell changes they make to that software without licensing those changes under the same GPL terms and providing source. Additionally, rights may be implied on the basis of how the terms are actually enforced; e.g. not enforcing certain apparent violations may imply your real intention was to grant those rights.
But just which rights are actually granted by a specific license? That's the hard part to understand. If we were to make a menu of grantable rights, and let the owners of the software creation pick and choose what rights they want to grant, it could certainly be more flexible and clear. OTOH, without a catchy label on the licensing (such as "GPL") it can also complicate things because people will have to look at all the details of what is granted; the list would definitely not be a small one.
And then there are some really strange characters such as myself who are giving their software tiered licensing. For example, my LIBH library (see link below) of a bunch of C functions is currently licensed under GPL for the alpha version, LGPL for the beta version, and BSD for the final release version. There, I just made your licensing life miserable. Maybe I'll change my mind and use some other licensing when it finally reaches a final release.
But I won't use Public Domain; that one is too hard to enforce.
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