SPDX files as templates


J Lovejoy
 

Hi all,

This is a topic that came up some time ago (I think by way of the Reuse folks) and I’ve been meaning to raise it in a separate thread.

SPDX has a lot of license data by way of the SPDX License List and associated tooling and files. Some people are using that data to grab license text for as a kind of license template (as I understand it, but correct my terminology as need be!) There were some opinions expressed that this is a bad idea - I’m not sure why.

The licenses for the SPDX License List are stored in two formats in the main repo: the XML format which applies some of the matching guidelines and other formatting and a plain .txt file. I believe it is the latter that some people may be using for the above scenario. For example, if someone wants to use the MIT license, for example, why wouldn’t they simply pull it from https://github.com/spdx/license-list-XML/blob/master/test/simpleTestForGenerator/MIT.txt ?

I am wondering if I have the scenario correct or are there other scenarios like this?
And if I’m pointing to where people are pulling the text from (or are other places being used? hopefully not the XML files or scraping the website!)

Relatedly, we have had requests to remove specific names in copyright notices so as to avoid anyone using the wrong notice. From an SPDX matching guidelines perspective, what name exists in the copyright notice does not matter, as that is not “matchable” text for the purposes of matching a license. I would also point out that anyone using the .txt files as a copy of the license for their own code, would *always* need to update the copyright notice - whether it has some other name or simply “author”. In any case, I don’t see this as a reason not to use the .txt files of the license text for other purpose outside of SPDX. And it’s fine for us to change those copyright notices to generic “author” or “name” if that helps.

Thoughts?

Thanks,
Jilayne

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