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DAxelrod (4649)

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I'm interested in hard problems.

Recently, I've started thinking a lot about what CP6AN might look like.

Class::MOP and the Perl 6 Metamodel make me more excited than I'd like to admit.

Also expect occasional wordy technology-related rantings.

Journal of DAxelrod (4649)

Tuesday October 10, 2006
02:05 PM

A license (clause) to kill

[ #31284 ]

If I do not use "the same terms as Perl itself", would that prevent you from using my code (especially CPAN modules)? Contributing to it? Distributing it? (EDIT: Not so much from a legal basis as if you'd decide "I don't want to have to figure out the legal crap here" and just give up. ENDIT)

This thread on the LKML is fascinating. Let's put aside discussions of the GPLv3 for a second and look at another argument Linus made in that thread, that the "or any later version" clause essentially means that you're agreeing to license your code under the terms of a license you haven't seen. I buy his argument, and so I'm trying to figure out how to license further code I work on.

Now, previously, when licensing FOSS Perl stuff I've written, I've used "the terms of Perl itself", nice, easy, and license-compatible with most other Perl stuff.

Well, the terms of Perl itself include the "or (at your option) any later version" clause. (The version of the GPL they specify is also Version 1, which I'm not actually sure I've read.)

The "terms of Perl itself" might also change, to use the Artistic License 2.0 though I haven't kept up with the discussion on that front.

So ideally what I'd like to do is license my code under the Artistic License 1.0 (or whatever the canonical name is for the current Artistic License) or the GPLv2.

Would this cause problems for others?

Because ultimately, if it will, I might decide that contributing code that people can use is more important than the rest of this licensing stuff. I welcome your input.


Please note that I'm not asking for legal advice. I'm asking about how your actions would be influenced.
Also note that if I were to contribute to someone else's project, I would most likely license my code under whatever terms they had chosen to license their code.

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  • Well, the terms of Perl itself include the "or (at your option) any later version" clause.
    I have no idea what Linus means, as I don't follow that discussion, but I do interpret the phrase in Perl's license as "whatever changes in Perl's license, you're free to choose the version you like best".

    So it's impossible to get worse for you.
    • Except the "you" who is free to choose is the user, not the author.
      • Well, that's what I meant. Wasn't that clear?

        What I ment was that you as a user are free to upgrade any module you used before because the license that it comes under can't ever get worse for you, as you're free to choose which one applies.
        • My appologies. What I was trying to say is that the user might be free to choose a license I disagree with (how would I know, I'm giving them the right to choose anything the FSF ever calls the GPL).
  • Choosing a license depends on what you want to do and what you want to control. You haven't said anything about that.

    My goal for my publicly available code is that people can use it. Putting "under the same terms as Perl itself" seems to accomplish that goal, and I don't think about it any further.

    Some people like to go on and on about licenses, but I tend to think it's mostly just shifting the bits around with providing any more real benefit to the world. I just want people to be able to use my code. I'm n
    • Right.

      My primary goal is to make a contribution. That means that I want people to be able to use, learn from, contribute to, and improve on my code.

      That said, I'm not particularly happy on giving somebody the right to license my code under terms I haven't even read because they don't exist yet.
    • And this isn't a question about which license I should use. I wouldn't be asking that on use.perl. I simply want to know how a particular choice of license would affect others.
      • Some concerns:

        If you plan on having your code go into core, then providing it under a licence different from that of Perl is going to be a serious issue.

        If you want to avoid burdening commercial users of your code, you should stay close to the pack, because some of them will have to have everything vetted by the legal dept. before they can use it. The less new text you introduce, the more likely that will succeed.

        • If I were to write anything that was considered for inclusion into the core, I would be happy to relicense it under "the same terms as Perl itself". Most modules IIRC don't go into core without other revamping as well, so it would be the perfect opportunity for a relicense.

          The "avoid burdening users" thing is exactly what I'm trying to figure out. Commercial users have to get everything vetted by their legal department, but a ton of people don't even have a legal department to check things with. I'm trying
  • I stick with "same as Perl itself".

    If in future the terms of Perl go out of sync with the GPL or something, we're all fucked anyway, so I figure that will not happen.

    At the end of the day, you are giving away code. It's a gift.

    Personally, I'm pretty cool with whatever people do with my code. I release it because it makes me write functionality better and more strictly on myself, I get better testing, and a range of other benefits.

    While I might object a little if someone took some of my stuff and did somethi