Re: update on only/or later etc.

J Lovejoy

On Nov 17, 2017, at 8:35 AM, Wheeler, David A <dwheeler@...> wrote:

J Lovejoy:

Do NOT add a identifier or operator, etc. for the found-license-text-only scenario where you don’t know if the intent of the copyright holder was “only or “or later” and are thus left to interpret clause

I disagree, sorry.

- we don’t need to solve this right now and we can always add this option later
- without adding a third option, we are in the same position we have been in since the birth of the SPDX License List. incremental changes have always been our go-to strategy; let’s take a first step to clarify the current identifiers in a way that the FSF can get behind. If, for a later release, we think we need this third option, then we can discuss that further once we have some time under our belts with this change. 

No, this is the *reason* that there's a problem.  The *reason* that "GPL-2.0" isn't working is, in part, because it overloads two notions.  "GPL-2.0" is supposed to mean "Only 2.0" (per the spec) .  But tools only know "I saw a GPL-2.0 license", so how can they represent that information?  The obvious way is "GPL-2.0", so that same identifier can mean "2.0 at least, and I don't know if there are other versions allowed".  That's not good.

Hi David,

If this is a potential problem once GPL-2.0 is changed to GPL-2.0-only, then it is currently a problem. And perhaps by altering the current identifier (GPL-2.0) to be more explicit (GPL-2.0-only) we will expose just how often GPL-2.0 has been used incorrectly. That may provide better examples to work off of to decide what ‘third option’ we need.  

Just a reminder to all: when someone places a copy of the GPL, version 2 alongside source code files this does not make the licensing ambiguous; clearly there is a valid license. The question comes down to how you interpret clause 9:
- does the language, "If the Program specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and 'any later version,' you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that version or of any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.” interpreted that placing a copy of the license is “specifying a version” and thu a user can redistribute the code under GPL version 2 (GPL-2.0-only) or, possibly some people read this as meaning GPL version 2 or any later version (GPL-2.0+)
- or does placing a copy of a version of the license NOT constitute specifying a version and thus the sentence, "If the Program does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software Foundation.” in which case one can redistribute the code under GPL-1.0+

Any scenario you could interpret, we have a way to express that currently and would still under the proposal. 

While on this subject, an article that appeared on came up on the last call. I just want to point out that that article, which explains the above interpretation issues (which we have been talking about for several months), does not reach a conclusion but simply encourages people to provide clarity of their intentions.  We can certainly all agree on encouraging that! (Although, I think we should consistently encourage people to use the standard license notices provided by the license and/or SPDX short identifiers) :)


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