Re: SPDX Agenda/Minutes


Dear All,

By uncoupling licenses and standard, I see a high risk, that we end up in many different quasi-sub-standards of spdx.

As in the example, what if several users of the license C and D give different license name tags to them, before they eventually get adopted by the license list?

One Spdx file says
1. Standard | License A
2. Standard | License B
3. Custom | License C (attached license text x)
4. Custom | License D (attached license text y)

Another one, describing the same package, says
1. Standard | License A
2. Standard | License B
3. Custom | License 3 (attached license text x)
4. Custom | License 4 (attached license text y)

And another spdx file, describing a DIFFERENT package says
1. Standard | License A
2. Standard | License B
3. Custom | License C (attached license text z)
4. Custom | License D (attached whatever)

Sure the files will work on their own. But if I eventually want to update them all to the newest standard, I will end up in either a lot of mismatches, or in a lot of manual work; i.e. the very two things spdx shall avoid (in my understanding).

Therefore my opinion is to include in V.1.0 as many licenses as possible.
Target should not be: include 80% of the licenses in Red-Hat;
Target should rather be: include 100% of the licenses we know of.
Why would it hurt us to include more licenses in the standard upfront?

Once we have done this, there should not be so many revisions due to additional licenses.
How many new FOSS licenses are established per year? I do not think it is too much nowadays.

The only thing that may happen frequently is that someone adds a single special clause to a well known license.
For these cases I would like to propose again to include a system to capture such slight variations by referring to the original version and describe the changes only.

E.g. The newer ECos-License ( does not need to be an own license in the standard.
The license describer could rather look like

DeclaredLicense = GPLv2
LicenseVariation = yes
VariationContents =
++ As a special exception, if other files instantiate templates or use macros or inline functions from this file, or you compile this file and link it with other works to produce a work based on this file, this file does not by itself cause the resulting work to be covered by the GNU General Public License.
++ However the source code for this file must still be made available in accordance with section (3) of the GNU General Public License.
++ This exception does not invalidate any other reasons why a work based on this file might be covered by the GNU General Public License.

... or something the like.

Kind regards

Soeren Rabenstein

Soeren Rabenstein, LL.M.
Legal Affairs Center - Legal Compliance Dept.
15, Li-Te Rd., Taipei 112, Taiwan
Tel.: (+886) 2 2894 3447 Ext.2372
Fax.: (+886) 2 2890 7674

-----Original Message-----
From: spdx-bounces@... [mailto:spdx-bounces@...]
On Behalf Of kate.stewart@...
Sent: Thursday, September 09, 2010 10:14 AM
To: dmg; Philip Odence; Kim Weins
Cc: spdx@...
Subject: Re: SPDX Agenda/Minutes

Hi Kim, Daniel,
Use case I'm worried about is how do we say what MUST be recognized
when all the licenses are on the web. What happens when we don't have
a stable base set of "must recognize" to conform.

If we make everything on the web, then the use case of including in
the spdx file, the full text of ALL licenses discovered (even if they
are ones that have a short form) - will conform to the specification.
Comparisons between analysis of the same package will become

Consider package "1" has licenses A, B, C, D in it. A, B, are on
the web site, C, D aren't. One analysis tool produces a file with
short form of A & B in the spec, C & D included verbatim. Another
analysis tool produces a file with A, B, C, & D included verbatim.
Both can be said to be SPDX 1.0, but if you compare both to each other,
you may not draw the conclusion that they are talking about the same

On the other hand, I do understand the concern over not rev'ing the
spec too often to conform to license changes.

What do people think about the following for 1.0?

There is a base set of licenses, that MUST be recognized and
included as short forms, to conform, and they are captured in Appendix
I of the SPEC, as well as being on the web site. This gives the
potential for creating a spec which is all inclusive - full text of
licenses recognized as short forms, which others on the list have
indicated a need for. We include language in the spec, saying these
are the ones that MUST be recognized, but others on the website CAN be
recognized as well. When there is critical mass of changes to rev
the spec to 2.0; the set that is on the web site at that time, becomes
the MUST be recognized, and additions after that are CAN be recognized.
This avoids the point revision churn for licenses that John's afraid of,
allows an enforcement of a minimum set, and give a path to add new
licenses as they are nominated into the "active set".



--- On Wed, 9/8/10, Kim Weins <kim.weins@...> wrote:

From: Kim Weins <kim.weins@...>
Subject: Re: SPDX Agenda/Minutes
To: "dmg" <dmg@...>, "Philip Odence"
Cc: "spdx@..." <spdx@...>
Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2010, 6:05 PM
I also agree that we should decouple
spec from licenses.  We need a way to
add licenses without having to rev the spec.
Otherwise we will get lots of
spec revisions or very few license updates.

I know there has been some concern that if the list of
licenses is not
"fixed" with the spec version, you won't know what list of
licenses you need
to be able to "understand" when you get an SPDX file based
on a particular
version of the spec. I'd like to dig into this use case
more, since it seems
to me that any tooling or even manual review processes can
be designed to
just pull the latest and greatest version of licenses from
the website.

The only issue is that you may get an SPDX file that has
something marked as
an "Other" license that is now in the  standard
license repo.  That
shouldn't really be a problem, since all the "Other"
licenses will have full
license text in the SPDX file.

Here's an example:

Company A creates SPDX on 1/1/2011 using latest set of
standard licenses at
that point.  They identify:
File A has Standard License A
File B has Standard License B
File C has Other License C
File D has Other License D

On 2/1/2011, License C is added to standard license repo

Company B reviews SPDX on 3/1/2011
All of the info is still valid -- since License C and D are
in the SPDX
file.  Company B could choose to update the SPDX file
File A has Standard License A
File B has Standard License B
File C now has STANDARD License C
File D has Other License D

Am I missing something here?


On Wed 9/8/10 12:48 PM, "dmg" <dmg@...>

From the minutes:

Our implicit path had tied a fixed license list of
licenses to the
spec rev, but JohnE put forth an impassioned argument
as to why they
should be decouples...

I throw my support behind JohnE proposal. It addresses
many of the
issues I have discussed before.


(hopefully I can make wake up in time for the meeting,
but it is tough
to only have 5 hrs of sleep :)

On Wed, Sep 8, 2010 at 11:24 AM, Philip Odence
Per discussion late meeting, agendas will be going
out in bodies of emails
and minutes will go out as links to archive at
I'll strive to get minutes out a week in advance,
though I'm behind this
time. Here's where they are posted (note that Kate
is still editing, so they
won't be final until tonight)
Meeting Time: Sept 9, 8am PDT / 10 am CDT / 11am
EDT / 16:00 GMT

Conf call dial-in:
Conference code:  7812589502
Toll-free dial-in number (U.S. and
Canada):  (877) 435-0230
International dial-in number: (253) 336-6732
For those dialing in from other regions, a list of
toll free numbers can be
Note, we will be using a different URL for each
meeting for purposes of
taking attendance. When you login please include
your full name and company
name, so I can just copy/pate into minutes. THX.

Administrative Agenda

Approval of minutes
Outreach and evangelism:

Common Messaging/Presentation ­ PhilO

Industry Venues ­ PhilR

Website ­ PhilO/Martin

Roll Out Plans - KimW/JohnE

Action Items
Note: Drafting related action items are embedded
the Wiki.

€ PhilO/Martin - Update on participation page
where to join (suggestion was
to put link in text, not just at top, consider "I
want to use the spec, vs.
I want to contribute to the spec" in navigation
€ Kate- Transfer document (.pdf) back to WIKI.
€ PhilO- Update standard presentation with
LinuxCon2010 input
€ Kate- Clean up the sharing analysis to what is
€ Kate- Publish the current version number of
the specification in brackets
behind reference
€ Kim/PhilO- Add and element of 'What's in this
for me?" to presentation
€ JeffL (w/Bill/Gary- Update zlib based on new
€ All- Look for new examples to add to site.
€ PhilK- Explore possibility of LF hosting
source for SPDX tools.
€ Gary- Explore other possible hosting options
€ PhilO- Start making minutes available via
€ BillS- Start up RDF sub-group. Solicite

Technical Agenda

SPEC - current status and open areas - Kate
RDF focus group - current status - Bill
Tools - update from Gary, and others.

L. Philip Odence
Vice President of Business Development
Black Duck Software, inc.
265 Winter Street, Waltham, MA 02451
Phone: 781.810.1819, Mobile: 781.258.9502
podence@... (my blog)

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