Re: New License/Exception Request

Kyle Mitchell

I won't be able to make today's call. But on the topic of "vanity
licenses", I would like to add that the WTFPL, while flippant and
contrarian, doesn't seem like a vanity license to me. There is a
standard form, and developers from different communities use it. That
despite the fact it's easier to "roll your own" one-line equivalent of
the WTFPL than probably any other recognized form.

Looking at it again, the majority of the standard license text is about
identifying itself as "WTFPL" and protecting that name "WTFPL" from
variations and derivatives. Those are tools for preserving cohesion
among those using the terms to cast a kind of protest vote---this
dynamic may be much stronger in large repositories like npm and APT,
chock full of very large as well as tiny-tiny "units" of open-source
and not to make room for idiosyncratic variations that gum up review
processes. They've been a part of WTFPL since v1.

I know of several downstream users of the license list, small and large,
who appreciate being able to identify and assess WTFPL-licensed packages
as a coded group. Personally, I'm not happy that there are so many--- it
speaks to a general alienation from the history of OSS licenses and what
they accomplished for the community---but I'd never want to be seen as
silencing voices and picking standards to "scold" a particular form. I'm
very grateful SPDX took the time to list WTFPL.

If there's anything I end up telling open source maintainers over and
over again, it's to defend their time, and not get sucked into process
that will eat all they can give. SPDX has to play defense, too. I regret
my practice doesn't afford me the flexibility to engage as the working
group prefers, with the exception of messages to this list. But I hope
these tidbits might be useful nonetheless.

Kyle Mitchell, attorney // Oakland // (510) 712 - 0933

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