On 2010-09-30 18:52, Peter Williams wrote:
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.
my 2 cents:
the idea is good, though we should not reinvent a license templates syntax when the OSI has alreday done something.
They use angle brackets so I would suggest using the same, not square brackets. See http://www.opensource.org/licenses/bsd-license.php
Another note is that copyright notices (such as in the BSD example you provide) may or may not be part of the license.
I consider them part of the license when the license text itself is copyrighted explicitly (GPL, Apache).
In the case of a BSD, I would not consider the copyright notice to be explicitly part of the license, and therefore likely not needed in a templatized license.
For example, the 3 clause bsd license
text would look like this
Copyright (c) [YEAR], [OWNER]
All rights reserved.
Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions
* Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
* Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above
copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following
disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials
provided with the distribution.
* Neither the name of the [ORGANIZATION] nor the names of its
contributors may be used to endorse or promote products
derived from this software without specific prior written
THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND CONTRIBUTORS
"AS IS" AND ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT
LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS
FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE
COPYRIGHT HOLDER OR CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT,
INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING,
BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES;
LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER
CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT
LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN
ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE
POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.
This would allow spdx to provide canonical forms of licenses without
trying to specify policy issues.
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philippe ombredanne | 1 650 799 0949 | pombredanne at nexb.com
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