Re: Proposed Update to SPDX License Expression Language


On Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 6:38 AM, J Lovejoy <opensource@...> wrote:

Thus, by having the “+” as an operator, one could, theoretically, apply it to *any* license on the SPDX License List (I shudder…).  Someone might, for example, declare the license for a file as:  BSD-2-Clause +

I would (vehemently) argue that this would be incorrect in the sense that nothing in the text of BSD-2-Clause explicitly allows a licensee to apply other versions of the BSD license to the licensor’s work. (Furthermore, the BSD licenses are not “versioned” in the traditional chronological sense, but their differences denoted by the number of clauses, which does not, incidentally, correspond the chronological history of the license(s).)  I would further that the only way (that I can think of at the moment and would rather not think of at all!) you could end up with a disjunctive licensing situation amongst BSD variations, is if the work stated something along the lines of, “This file is licensed under a choice of either BSD-2-Clause or BSD-3-Clause.”  (Nevermind that such a disjunctive license choice would also seem somewhat pointless…), which would/could/should be expressed in an SPDX document as the usual way: BSD-2-Clause OR BSD-3-Clause (more shuddering… One would then hope and pray that the Concluded License field provided the given choice and some kind of explanation for this ;)

sorry everybody that I have been disconnected from this discussion. I hope to be of some help.

I think the + operator is a great one, but in a way it is equivalent to a "WITH +". 

From what I have seen, it is the text of the license statement of the file, not in the license itself. The license statement is the one that makes it clear what "+" is in these circumstances.

I have seen two situations where the GPL or newer version is not used in the standard way. 

Take for example this license (svnkit/TMate):

 * ====================================================================
 * Copyright (c) 2004-2012 TMate Software Ltd.  All rights reserved.
 * This software is licensed as described in the file COPYING, which
 * you should have received as part of this distribution.  The terms
 * are also available at
 * If newer versions of this license are posted there, you may use a
 * newer version instead, at your option.
 * ====================================================================
Notice that this is the perfect use of the + operator. However, we still don't know what the license is. In other words, it can apply to any license!!!!!
In this specific case the license is the TMate license (a hydra-like license with terms that try to make it a BSD-ish-reciprocal license) see:
the other one is by the KDE foundation, and this one applies specifically to the GPL-3:
 *   This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify    *
 *   it under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License as          *
 *   published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2.1 of the    *
 *   License, or (at your option) version 3, or any later version accepted   *
 *   by the membership of KDE e.V. (or its successor approved by the         *
 *   membership of KDE e.V.), which shall act as a proxy defined in          *
 *   Section 6 of version 3 of the license.  
I think you need to be more careful about the + operator to avoid these situations. I feel the + operator a syntactic sugar for the more generic
"WITH any newer version of the license as defined by the license steward. For example the MPL-2 has this operator already embedded in the license (section 10.1)
I hope this makes sense



Daniel M. German

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