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Allison (3003)

Allison
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Human (I think).

Journal of Allison (3003)

Tuesday April 25, 2006
02:44 AM

What's licensing got to do with it?

[ #29439 ]

I've spent a good part of the past week answering Pugs legal questions. Still haven't cleared up all the confusion there, but we're close.

So why is this licensing stuff important? Well, part of Larry's original intent with the Artistic License was to allow proprietary and free versions of Perl to peacefully coexist. It would be great if everyone would peacefully coexist without encouragement, but since this world isn't always nice, we need other tools. The Artistic License helps by limiting the ways people can release a proprietary version, and also by saying what it takes to be considered a "free" version.

To do this it relies on copyright law, the same as the GPL and most other software licenses. The word "copyright" can be loosely translated into plain English as "an artist's right to copy or change their work, or to give it to someone else". In the commercial world, copyright law, is sometimes used to take away freedoms (which is unfortunate). But in the open source/free software world we use copyright law to promote greater freedom. (Hence the term "copyleft" which is a pun on the fact that the word "right" is sometimes used to refer to conservative political views, and "left" to more liberal ones.)

So, if you're wondering why someone would object to having their code released as public domain, or why it's worth spending a week or so to get the terms right, it's this: we want to protect and promote the freedoms of our users.

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  • Is there an appropriate public forum to ask questions about Artistic 2? Is there a FAQ?

    You mention answering questions [blogs.com]. Is there any record of the question and answer session?

    I ask, because the mailing list you mentioned in your announcement has been inactive for 4 years. And the questions asked in the comments [perl.org] section of your announcement have gone unanswered. As have the questions I asked [google.com] on perl6-internals mailing list back in October.

    I don't understand the need for the compilation copyright. But I

    • The perl6-licenses list is dead, please subscribe to artistic2 {at} perl {dot} org. Or, just follow the mailing list archives [perl.org]. I'll try to move all the answers to these kinds of questions there. (And if you see questions of this sort in other blogs or forums, I'd appreciate it if you'd post a link to that list so I don't miss them.)
  • I also have some unresolved questions, mostly because I'm unsure where an appropriate place to raise them is.

    For example, we have Perl modules now that link to GPL or LGPL libraries. I gather current this is fine because we create these modules as seperate programs and they never really get "linked" as such.

    But if the new Perl 6 world allows compilation (as I gather it does) what does this mean for the dozens of modules that wrap GPL or LGPLed libfoo modules.

    Is there a giant Perl 6 Licensing FAQ somewhere?
  • Is a fundamental problem wiht Public Domain code a Problem and ALv2 that I don't understand ? I understand there might be legal issues with PD code that don't arise with MIT licensed code, but is there is implication that Public Domain code is unacceptable? This may sound like an odd question, but ... If so, will that limit the ability to incorperate code say writen by employees or contractors of U.S. Government since the U.S. Government can not by law assert a copyright? (and the writer is not be able
    • No, there isn't a fundamental problem with public domain code and AL2. Public domain code can always be included in anything. (That's the whole point of the public domain.)

      I think you're referring to the problem with having Pugs be public domain and then become the production implementation of Perl 6? The problem there is not that we can't include public domain code in AL2 code, the problem is that if all of Perl 6 (or even 90% of it) is available as public domain, then there's nothing to stop an unscrup