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Re: Updating the OpenContent license

On Mon, Jan 17, 2000 at 08:28:36AM -0700, David Wiley wrote:
> This announcement may also be read online at
> http://opencontent.org/announce.shtml
> I would like to recommend to the community that it is time for
> OpenContent to update its license. 
> This is entirely a community effort. To give us enough traction to get
> moving, I'll recommend that we begin our discussions with the Open
> Publication License (http://opencontent.org/openpub/). 

Since Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation has drafted a
"GNU Free Documentation License" I suggest that the Open Publication
License (OPL) be merged with it.  I'm aware that this is easier said
than done.  By having fewer licenses there would be more opportunity
to merge publications and/or parts of publications.  As it is now, one
can't merge material that is currently licensed under different
licenses, since the licenses do not permit it.  By merger I mean
combining them by doing a lot of editing including such things as
creating a new paragraph from the contents of two similar paragraphs
(one from each publication).  I think that a good name for a merged
OPL/GNU license could be "Free Publication License".

The two licenses, draft GNU and OPL, are pretty similar in philosophy.
Both allow anyone to copy and distribute the publication.  There are a
number of changes that I would like to suggest for the OPL but I'll
post them later except for one that I'll briefly mention now.  

The OPL lets the author choose an option in the license regarding
modification.  One case is where one may freely modify the publication
without needing to contact the original author (or current maintainer).
Another option (which I don't like) is to allow modification only if
the original author consents.  Suppose the original author can't be
located, is non-responsive, or is not cooperative in permitting needed
modifications.  I think that for free publications, anyone should
ultimately have the right to modify them.

                                David Lawyer

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