Re: Today's Agenda Legal WorkStream

Philip Odence

Yes, and let's not forget this same point when we are talking about the process of adding new license to the standard list. The discussion is never whether the license can be included in an SPDX file—it always can be—the only issue from the SPDX file creator's perspective is whether it matches a license on the standard list with a predefined short name, or whether they have to go the one extra step of including the license text in Section 4. Licensing Info and create their own local short name.

From: Jilayne Lovejoy <jilayne.lovejoy@...>
Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2011 17:26:20 -0400
To: dmg <dmg@...>, Jilayne Lovejoy <Jlovejoy@...>
Cc: Kate Stewart <kate.stewart@...>, "spdx-legal@..." <spdx-legal@...>, "spdx@..." <spdx@...>, Esteban Rockett <mgia3940@...>
Subject: Re: Today's Agenda Legal WorkStream

These variant licenses would simply end up needing to be added as a “nonstandard” license, meaning the SPDX generator would not be able to use the standardized SPDX license list shortname for that license, but it wouldn’t (shouldn’t) be tagged as unknown in such a case.

On 3/23/11 10:54 AM, "dmg" <dmg@...> wrote:

On Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 9:48 AM, Jilayne Lovejoy <Jlovejoy@...> wrote:
I believe we already discussed this to some degree and decided that we would not enter the arena of word equivalents with the exception of spelling variations for known American-British English.  Although there are certainly plenty of words that seem “safe” to equate, that begins to feel like a slippery slope in terms of the potential for different meanings or the license author’s intent getting altered.  More specifically, many licenses have definitions for such words.  Past and present tense can also be tricky, both from deciding how and when it’s okay to use either tense.  All in all, I think it’s best to take a very conservative approach to what we will “replace” in terms of templatizing the licenses.  We can always expand, but it would be very hard to roll it back later on.  Just my two cents.

I agree. I wonder if a solution is to allow the specification of "variant" of a license. Perhaps a way to say: the closest license is this one, with a text similarity metric of X, and where the differences are  such and such. Otherwise a lot of BSD and MIT licensed files will be listed as unknown/other.

Certainly the BSD and Apache 1.1 licenses are problematic, because they are often verbatim with the exception of the author’s name in the third clause (BSD) and the third, fourth, and fifth clause (Apache 1.1) as well as the disclaimer sections for both.  We are working through how/where to capture this, as well as copyright notices in general, though.

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