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Re: Boilerplate License Revision Proposal

On Fri, Jul 21, 2000 at 09:42:27AM -0700, Poet/Joshua Drake wrote:
> Hello,
> There is no way we are going to make every one happy with this. I suggest
> we completely scrap the the boilerplate license. Were not lawyers and we
> shouldn't pretend to be.
You don't need to be a lawyer to understand a license.

> My suggestion to list links to various licenses that are acceptable.
> 1. OpenContent
> 2. OpenPublication
> 3. GFDL
> If anybody knows any other "documentation" licenses add them to the list.
> We should state that if they do not like one of the above licenses then 
> they can write their own. 

There are three things wrong with doing this:

1. We need to recruit new authors and maintainers so we should make
becoming an author as easy as possible.  If someone not familiar with
licenses is told to go out and find a suitable license, it can be a
very time-consuming job to read the various licenses, analyze them,
try to find critical comments on them etc.  We should make it as easy
as possible to select a license by presenting new authors with a
sample license or a recommended license.  Of course if they want to
spend the time to study other licenses and choose one that meets our
requirements, fine.

2. Since the "free" licenses all require that derivative works use the
same license, it becomes impossible to merge two "free" documents
unless they have the same license.  Therefore it's better for LDP
documents to use a minimum number of license (ideally just one).  I've
put "free" in quotes since there are various interpretations of what
that means.  I'm using it here to mean one that meets LDP requirements
(but Stallman would not consider all such licenses to be "free").

3. Our Manifesto discourages licenses that don't allow modification.
Now the Open Content License says:
Incorporation of the OpenContent into works of similar subject matter
and scope is prohibited without consent of the CM ...

For the OpenPublication License:
Option A prohibits any "substantive modification", something we
discourage.  Option B prohibits commercial print publication and
violates LDP license requirements.

Other licenses are seriously flawed also.  Thus we should suggest the
license that is the freest, etc.  Other considerations are that it
should be either short and simple (if it's to be included with the
document) or that it may be included by reference (without the full
text in the document).  There are many other factors and issues to

Thus the third reason for not simply listing a number of licenses to
choose from is that we should steer people towards the best
license (or licenses).

> If they write their own there should be some guidelines as to what
> is acceptable license for documents that will be included within the
> LDP.

Such "guidelines" already exist in the Manifesto as "requirements".

Right now I think that either the Boilerplate or the "LDP License"
(needs revision) would be the way to go.  My second choice would be
GPL (but not GFDL).  What I would like to do is to modify the
Boilerplate License per my draft and then go on to more discussion on
the complex license issues.

                        David Lawyer

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