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Re: Draft Boilerplate License

On  2 Oct, David Lawyer wrote:

I think the draft license allows a little too much freedom.

> ***DRAFT*** BOILERPLATE LICENSE (by David Lawyer)
> -----------------------start-of-draft-----------------------------------
> v0.1, 2 October 1999
> Please freely copy and distribute (sell or give away) this document.
> For corrections and minor changes contact the maintainer.

I suggest:

"Forward corrections and minor changes to the document maintainer."

I think "derivative work" needs a short explanation. I don't think my
definition is tight enough, but here it is anyway:

"A derivative work is one that uses content from this document without
reference to this document."

> You may create a derivative work and distribute it provided:

> 1. For a translation, just let the maintainer know about it.

Again, "translation" is a muddy term. Do you mean translation into
another language or translation into, say, another format or media?

> 2. For a non-translation, discuss it with the maintainer (if it is
>  being maintained).  If after due deliberation no agreement with the
>  maintainer can be reached, then you may proceed with the derivative 
>  work without the maintainer's approval.

This, I think is a little counter-intuitive. It says that you should
contact the maintainer if you wish to produce a non-translation
derivative work, and that if you don't reach agreement with them
(presumably on the terms/nature of the derivative work) that you can go
ahead and do it anyway? Why not just allow them without any need to
contact the 'maintainer' if that is the case. All this seems to do to
me is to insert a notification to the maintainer, delay, and potential
for dispute into the process.

What was the intent here?

> 3. Send your derivative work to the LDP (or the like) for posting
>  on the Internet.  If not the LDP, then let the LDP know where it is
>  available.

This pretty much limits the scope of this license to the LDP, but that
isn't a real problem I guess.

> 4. License the derivative work in the spirit of this license or 
>  use GPL. 

"in the spirit of" is a problem. It is exceedingly open to individual
interpretation as to what the "spirit" of the license was in the first
place. Here are two suggestions:

"License the derivative work with this license."


"License the derivative work with any of the LDP approved licenses."
(presuming we do indeed agree and publish a list of these somewhere)

> 5. Give due credit to previous authors and major contributors.

I think this needs to be much stronger. It doesn't insist on
preservation of existing copyright notices. I think any reasonable
license should do this.

The whole point of copyright is to assert ownership and control of the

There is no point placing a copyright notice on a document if you aren't
concerned about either of those issues which would make the license
itself redundant.


terry@albert.animats.net, terry@linux.org.au

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