Open Source License Question

Dan Perl danperl at
Thu Oct 28 03:19:05 CEST 2004

"Michael Foord" <fuzzyman at> wrote in message 
news:6f402501.0410271123.5a7e68d9 at
> "Dan Perl" <danperl at> wrote in message 
> news:<97-dnSRAYPEwPuLcRVn-rA at>...
>> Michael, I have one comment in-line (see below), but other than that I 
>> can
>> only say that I chose GPL for my own project.  It may discourage use of 
>> my
>> code for commercial purposes but it might even be pretentious to expect 
>> that
>> something like that would ever happen.
> A lot of people use python as part of their job and are active
> participants in teh python community. A lot of what I write are
> library modules to do a particular job. Using the GPL means someone is
> unable to use your work in a business setting. i don't expect other
> people to sell products containing my work - but neither do I want to
> prevent them from being able to use it.

Fair enough.  LGPL, X, or BSD should allow you to do that.

>> On the other hand, I was more
>> interested in the advantages of open-source and I wanted to enforce that 
>> as
>> much as possible.  I did some research of my own at the time (recently,
>> actually) but I didn't go much into details and I didn't study other
>> licenses in detail either, but I chose GPL in large part because it is 
>> the
>> most widely used.
>> I tried to find some of the web pages that I read when I was doing my
>> research but I couldn't.  However, I stumbled upon an article that I 
>> didn't
>> see before and that is very much in line with my thoughts.  Here's a 
>> link:
> Sure - if I allow my work to be relicensed then it will be GPL
> compatible. I don't like the GPL itself.
>> Hope this helps,
>> Dan
>> "Michael Foord" <fuzzyman at> wrote in message
>> news:6f402501.0410270331.6f0d5fd6 at
>> > I'd like to formalise slightly the license I release my projects
>> > under. At the moment it's 'free to use, modify, distribute and
>> > relicense'. This is basically fine as I don't want t oprevent people
>> > using my work in commercial settings - but I would like to retain the
>> > right to be identified as the author. I'd also like to prevent people
>> > selling derivative works where my stuff forms the substantial part of
>> > the poduct.
>> Michael, I think it's going to be hard to get what you want.  I don't see
>> how you can give a lot of freedom ("I don't want to prevent people using 
>> my
>> work in commercial settings") and, at the same time, achieve something 
>> like
>> "to prevent people selling derivative works where my stuff forms the
>> substantial part of the poduct".  I'm no lawyer, but I don't think you 
>> can
>> define in a license what is a "substantial part of the product".
> I've done some legal training - English law can be reasonably sensible
> when it comes to definitions of words. You could even pin it down to
> something as specific as 'more than 30% of the lines of source code'.
> In programming terms it's a meaningless measure - but you have to
> start somewhere. I don't think I can afford to sue anyone
> anyway...........

I saw basically two messages in the articles that I have quoted.  One was 
for GPL-compatibility, but the other one was to not write your own license. 
I think other people also have been giving a warning about that in this 
thread.  I'll give you credit for having some legal training and I will 
assume that you can do a good job at defining a license.  However, think of 
it this way.  No matter how good a job you can do at writing it, most people 
will not be good enough at interpreting it.  You are trying to allow some 
commercial use of your code, but you may end up driving people away from 
using it, both for commercial and OS purposes.  Many people will just avoid 
it if it is not a license that they understand and that they are not 
familiar with.

My 2 cents.


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