Re: SPDX files as templates

J Lovejoy

Hi Alexios,

You are correct re: the license-list-XML repo and originally - when we were still getting the whole XML files sorted - I believe, we had some kind of explicit warning not to use the data there and pointing to the license-list-data repo explicitly (if memory serves). The README has since been updated and has more of a factual statement.

But this is part of what I was getting at - there are the .txt files in the folder of the license-list-XML repo, but then there are the .text files here too: (and a template file as well).

I'm curious as to 1) what are people actually using and how (that we know of)?
and 2) given Vicky's comment that people are going to do what they are going to do, should we point them in any particular direction?

I don't see the need for an additional format... but open to thoughts on that too.


On 11/16/21 1:20 PM, Alexios Zavras wrote:

Hi Jilayne,

The way we have operated for years is that the license-list-XML repo is for internal work of the SPDX Legal Team.
These files are automagically processed and everything inside is generated, where people can collect all the information in a variety of formats.

If we want to provide another format (e.g., with deleted author names), we can definitely add it in this generated data repo.

-- zvr

-----Original Message-----
From: Spdx-legal@... <Spdx-legal@...> On Behalf Of J Lovejoy
Sent: Tuesday, 16 November, 2021 19:18
To: SPDX-legal <spdx-legal@...>
Subject: SPDX files as templates

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 ?

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.



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