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Software Licences...?


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#1 shurcool   Members   -  Reputation: 439

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 12:22 PM

I suppose if one is writing open source software, there should be some licence attached, right?

I'm not too good with the legal matters, nor do I want to spend much effort on getting better. Most of the ones I've seen have complex and lengthy documents, making it hard to understand them and choose the best one.

What I want in a licence is one that basically says two things:

1. You may do anything with this project that benefits the human race as a whole.
2. You may NOT do anything with this project that detracts from the human race as a whole.

I know it's not advisable to write your own licence (especially when you have no law knowledge) cuz it'll probably backfire and not do its intended purpose... But is there any licence that basically says that?

I would put my projects in public domain or the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WTFPL licence, but I think the problem with that is someone can take it, and change the licence, change the attributions, and make it closed source, then sue you for working on it.

This would be disallowed by my licence above, because it may benefit one person/company by 1000 points, but each other person on the planet losing 1 point would outweigh it. However, making the source closed source but putting in 10x times the effort that the open source community was putting into it and making the product better would be allowed. Basically, the formula for net benefit change is: sum of(benefit change each human). If it goes up, it's good. If it goes down, you can't do it. I don't know how to handle the fact it's not exact science (and the expected outcome may not occur).

P.S. If's not clear already, I don't care about getting compensated in the traditional ways from my projects... I'll accept donations and such, but I won't prevent anyone from downloading/using my tools by forcing them to pay up front. At the same time, I'd love to get help working on stuff from like-minded people (if any exist).

Edited by shurcool, 01 October 2012 - 12:26 PM.


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#2 Arthur Souza   Members   -  Reputation: 1417

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 12:29 PM

"but I think the problem with that is someone can take it, and change the licence, change the attributions, and make it closed source, then sue you for working on it."

You'll have evidence of publishing the project and the source code before whoever does that, so you have the proof of ownership I supposed. Can't be sued for having something before they even claim they made it, right?

I'm just gonna drop the MIT license here. http://opensource.org/licenses/mit-license.php
Because "2. You may NOT do anything with this project that detracts from the human race as a whole." is a complicated issue, since there have to be solid standards as to what it actually means to "detracts from the human race as a whole".

What I mean is, there is nothing defined regarding what is good use or badso it's complicated to state that there may not be any "bad uses".

A.

Lotus - Action RPG In development http://www.gamedev.n...die-rpg-engine/ |
Personal blog In Portuguese: lotuzgames.wordpress.com |


#3 mdwh   Members   -  Reputation: 836

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 09:53 AM

Seems like a terrible licence, how do you measure said benefit to humanity?

"but I think the problem with that is someone can take it, and change the licence, change the attributions, and make it closed source, then sue you for working on it."

There is no way that they can claim copyright on something that isn't yours. It would only be an issue if you were then to distribute their copy (even then, there's a US ruling saying you can't copyright copies of public domain material).
http://erebusrpg.sourceforge.net/ - Erebus, Open Source RPG for Windows/Linux/Android
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/mark.harman/conquests.html - Conquests, Open Source Civ-like Game for Windows/Linux

#4 mdwh   Members   -  Reputation: 836

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 09:54 AM

(Well, they can _claim_ it of course, just I mean it wouldn't be true. It's unclear what situation you're really describing here?)
http://erebusrpg.sourceforge.net/ - Erebus, Open Source RPG for Windows/Linux/Android
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/mark.harman/conquests.html - Conquests, Open Source Civ-like Game for Windows/Linux

#5 shurcool   Members   -  Reputation: 439

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 07:46 PM

Tom Preston-Werner mentions the MIT licence in this blog post too. That's reassuring.

#6 Bregma   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4818

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 08:51 PM

I suppose if one is writing open source software, there should be some licence attached, right?

I think you mean "if one is distributing software, there should be some license attached." You are probably correct.

I'm not too good with the legal matters, nor do I want to spend much effort on getting better. Most of the ones I've seen have complex and lengthy documents, making it hard to understand them and choose the best one.

What I want in a licence is one that basically says two things:

1. You may do anything with this project that benefits the human race as a whole.
2. You may NOT do anything with this project that detracts from the human race as a whole.

I know it's not advisable to write your own licence (especially when you have no law knowledge) cuz it'll probably backfire and not do its intended purpose... But is there any licence that basically says that?

You're going for a non-free distribution license. There are a few. The license requiring you to use the software for the benefit of the human race is likely to prevent much distribution, however. Perhaps the JSON license is what you're looking for.

I would put my projects in public domain or the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WTFPL licence, but I think the problem with that is someone can take it, and change the licence, change the attributions, and make it closed source, then sue you for working on it.

Really, if you're going to get in to licensing and distribution, you need to understand some of the basics, like the concept of copyright. If someone takes your copyrighted code and claims it's theirs and tried to sue, your lawyers will get rich off their lawyers. At least in jurisdictions that have copyright.

P.S. If's not clear already, I don't care about getting compensated in the traditional ways from my projects... I'll accept donations and such, but I won't prevent anyone from downloading/using my tools by forcing them to pay up front. At the same time, I'd love to get help working on stuff from like-minded people (if any exist).

While it may not be your cup of tea, there are helpful discussions of various software distribution licenses.
Stephen M. Webb
Professional Free Software Developer




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