Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Media Music Your Rights Online

FSF On How To Choose a License 210

Posted by timothy
from the have-it-suit-your-endeavor dept.
ciaran_o_riordan writes "FSF have put together their license recommendations, beyond just their own licenses, for software, documentation, and other works: 'People often ask us what license we recommend they use for their project. We've written about this publicly before, but the information has been scattered around between different essays, FAQ entries, and license commentaries. This article collects all that information into a single source, to make it easier for people to follow and refer back to. The recommendations below are focused on licensing a work that you create — whether that's a modification of an existing work, or a new original work.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

FSF On How To Choose a License

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 27, 2011 @06:08AM (#36260822)

    "Please don't use it for software or documentation, since it is incompatible with the GNU GPL and with the GNU FDL."

    I find this advice very, very bad. This is where FSF's mentality goes so very wrong, and where they really don't seem to stand for freedom in any sense at all. Remember: freedom is a two-way concept, not a one-way concept as the FSF gladly would want it to be. "Of course we're all about open and free licenses, as long as you choose one of ours."

  • This Is Ridiculous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 27, 2011 @06:14AM (#36260852)

    Notice how they never mentioned once the BSD license, arguably the most free license there is in the world.

    The whole premise of this exercise is ridiculous.

  • No BSD (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gclef (96311) on Friday May 27, 2011 @06:16AM (#36260864)

    I guess it's predictable that the FSF wouldn't be in favor of BSD-style licenses, but if they're going to mention things like the Apache license, they should include the BSD license. BSD is not mentioned anywhere in their guide...which is a shame. Whether you agree with it or not, it's a valid license, and should be included in the decision tree for choosing a license.

  • by kyz (225372) on Friday May 27, 2011 @06:18AM (#36260882) Homepage

    Why would they?

    If you want "true freedom", put your software in the public domain.

    If you want BSD levels of freedom, the Apache license is better.

  • by bky1701 (979071) on Friday May 27, 2011 @06:18AM (#36260886) Homepage
    Free for developers looking to make closed derivative works. Not free for society, other developers, and certianly not users.

    If you want it to be "free," just go public domain it. GPL is about actually keeping software free, not providing a toolkit to proprietary developers.
  • Re:No BSD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Qubit (100461) on Friday May 27, 2011 @06:58AM (#36261066) Homepage Journal

    if they're going to mention things like the Apache license, they should include the BSD license....Whether you agree with it or not, it's a valid license, and should be included in the decision tree for choosing a license.

    I mean look at it this way: This is the FSF's cheat-sheet decision tree for people to choose a Free Software license. You could easily compare this document with that page that Creative Commons has to help people choose a Free Culture license.

    Now I don't have (read: I'm too lazy to go look up the url right now) the CC page memorized, but last I remembered they only put a few of their CC licenses on there. There wasn't any CC0 listed, and I don't remember the CC-GPL or the Remix license (not sure if that latter license is even being promoted by them anymore).

    If the FSF's target is people who don't geek out on the particular nuances of "distribute" vs "convey" in a FOSS license, then they aren't going to give someone a complete primer on all licenses. Remember that this document is designed as a tool for choosing a license, not working with existing licenses. Sure, if I had to educate a bunch of software developers about FOSS licenses I would probably start with the GPL, then move to BSD (3-clause, natch), MIT, Apache, and maybe sprinkle in some cautionary tales about weak or incompatible licenses. But that ain't the game here.

    It's obvious why the FSF chose the Apache 2.0 license as their default permissive license

    1. It's well written by Real Laywers
    2. It offers some patent protection
    3. It's GPLv3-compatible

    Sure, the new BSD and MIT licenses are shorter, but they don't offer developers and end-users the same kinds of structured protections that are available in the GPLv3 and Apache 2.0. And that's what the FSF is designed to promote.

  • Re:No BSD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Friday May 27, 2011 @07:16AM (#36261152)

    Shock Horror: the FSF is biased on the FSF website in favour of FSF licences ...

    In other News: the Pope is Catholic ...

  • by jfrelinger (133817) on Friday May 27, 2011 @07:46AM (#36261262)

    Free for developers looking to make closed derivative works. Not free for society, other developers, and certianly not users.

    Just because someone makes a closed fork, doesn't mean the original disappears. The original is still there and still free for users, still free for other developers, and society. Your statement is pure copyleft FUD.

    If you want it to be "free," just go public domain it. GPL is about actually keeping software free, not providing a toolkit to proprietary developers.

    The whole reason the BSD license exists is to explicitly provide protections to the original author that public domain doesn't explicitly provide, like indemnity to lack of fitness, warranty etc.

  • by no known priors (1948918) on Friday May 27, 2011 @07:55AM (#36261304)

    "Just to be clear, using BSD licensed code in a GPL'ed work is fine - re-licensing the whole file under a more restrictive license is not."
    Actually, you're wrong. The BSD license allows anyone to come along and relicense the entire file/program or whatever, under any other license, so long as the conditions of the BSD license are followed. Which mainly come down to attribution.
    The same 'freedom" which allows a propitiatory software developer (such as Microsoft) to take BSD licensed stuff and then say that others are not allowed to redistribute without their permission, is the same "freedom" which allows GPL advocates to take the same code and relicense under the GPL. Of course, if the attribution is done correctly there is nothing to stop you from going to the original source of the program and doing what you like.

    Oh wait, relicensing BSD stuff is only OK when you can't see the source code for the end result, not when you can see the source code, but can't use it because of that nasty GPL virus! Oh the horror!

  • by djmurdoch (306849) on Friday May 27, 2011 @08:13AM (#36261402)

    the Apache 2.0 license is incompatible with GPLv2 code.

    I think they see that as a feature, not a bug. The FSF really wants everyone to upgrade to GPLv3 (which is also incompatible with GPLv2).

  • by Skapare (16644) on Friday May 27, 2011 @08:30AM (#36261518) Homepage

    This (GPL vs BSD) is where the fork in the road is. It depends on whether you want your code to be widespread one or or widespread the other way. In the GPL case, your code won't be used in certain products where they can't open the whole thing. In the BSD case, it can be used everywhere, but there's no obligated to release source for what it gets added to. You have to decide, for code you create, which way you want it to go. I recently switched to BSD for my library code, and staying with GPL for complete programs.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

Working...