[opensource] Open Source Licence Challange

Steven James Samuel Stapleton stapleton at mps.ohio-state.edu
Wed Apr 19 17:36:24 EDT 2006

Greetings Ladies, Gentlemen and Artificial Intelligences...

I am Jim Stapleton, a recent OSU graduate, who unfortunately never knew 
about this club until I after graduation, when a still-undergrad friend told 
me of it.

With that introduction done, I have an idea for all of you, for a little 
fun, mental exercise, community building, and what open source is all about; 
giving to the world.

I propose the Open Source License Challenge, wherein we discuss the various 
open source licenses, their pros, cons, and maybe, just maybe, create the 
best open source license ever, the OSU License!

To start the thoughts, I'll give you mine on a couple of licenses

I've always like the BSD/MIT licenses, they are truly free licenses, 
granting the user a carte-blanche (sp?) to do what they want with the 
software. Really, the only thing prohibited by the BSD/MIT license is use of 
the author names as product endorsement.

  PRO: Truly free, very open and friendly to any person or group
  CON: Commercial organizations, and even non-commercial organizations, can 
use software under this license, if it is the only one used, make money off 
of it, and not provide a fair share/compensation to the developers for their 

These two licenses, are related, but, in my opinion, still vastly 
difference. I have trouble considering the GPL to be anything but the 
Benedict Arnold of the free software licenses. Sure it claims to be "free 
software", but it provides so many restrictions, that there are closed 
source software licenses that give you more freedom. Not only that but the 
GPL is somewhat viral, infecting software that uses GPLed software. The LGPL 
allows for many use of software, without requiring it be placed on the 
software that is using an LGPLed library.

  PRO: Highly preventative of abusive use of the library/software for 3rd 
party financial gain or use.
  CON: Not flexible, rather restrictive, not as friendly for commercial 
software (however commercial support works well)
  PRO: Friendly for a wide variety of uses than the regular GPL, rather well 
balanced, etc.
  CON: Still somewhat restrictive, though not horribly, can still be abused 
by people who want to make money off of someone else's work.

The challenge: A "UNIX" themed license template, allowing for flexibility 
and a wide variety of uses - keeping the advantages of many licenses, and 
mending the drawbacks. How does one make a "UNIX" themed license? Well the 
UNIX style of doing things is to have a lot of little applications that can 
be glued together with a little digital-glue to make applications to do 
other tasks. This license would be a glue to hold together several licenses 
to help provide a more flexible and friendly license for all parties. I was 
thinking of something setup similar to a "switch" statement - many cases for 
various users, and a default for everyone else, but that would not be 
required. A context free grammar for the license would be interesting as 

Even if you aren't interested in the challenge, a discussion on the merits 
and problems of each license would be interesting.

Have fun,

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