Peter Williams <peter.williams@...>
In <https://fossbazaar.org/pipermail/spdx/2010-September/000116.html> dmg brought up and interesting question regarding how similar two license texts need to be before they can be considered the same license. This got me thinking about the proposed license templates.
I am increasing uncomfortable with the idea of spdx specify a mechanism intended to support recognition of licenses. That very idea seems fraught with peril, both technically and legally.
What constitutes similar enough to treat as a single license is a policy decision. Risk averse organizations with a high profile might choose a relatively high bar for sameness, while less risk averse organizations will probably prefer a lower bar. I think setting these policies should be left to the producers and consumers of spdx files. These parties are the only ones with enough information to do it effectively.
There are a few situations where a light weight template syntax in the license text field itself would be useful. Such a syntax would allow a way to demarcate really obvious and uncontentious replaceable parts of the license. Square brackets around a description of the replaceable element would probably sufficient. For example, the 3 clause bsd license text would look like this
Copyright (c) [YEAR], [OWNER]This would allow spdx to provide canonical forms of licenses without trying to specify policy issues.