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Software licenses and releasing Python programs for review

P: n/a
Hi,

I'm not sure if this is the right group to post this. If not, then I
would appreciate if somebody could point me to the correct group.

This is my first time releasing software to the public and I'm wanting
to release a Python program I wrote for review (and critique) and
testing on other platforms, but also I would like to explore the
different software licenses that are available (there seems to be
many). Since the specification for the programs is knowledge-centric
(related to linguistics), I need a group of people that are
knowledgeable in this area. Is there a place where I can advertise to
look for people who are knowledgeable in Python and linguistics?

Ultimately I desire two things from the license (but not limited to):
- being able to distribute it freely, anybody can modify it
- nobody is allowed to make profit from my code (other than myself)

What is the methodology that people employ to releasing software?

Thank you.

Jul 19 '05 #1
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31 Replies


P: n/a

"poisondart" <po***********@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:11**********************@g14g2000cwa.googlegr oups.com...
testing on other platforms, but also I would like to explore the
different software licenses that are available (there seems to be


There is an Open Software Foundation (or something close) with a site
listing and linking to numerous OSF-approved licenses.

TJR

Jul 19 '05 #2

P: n/a
On Fri, 27 May 2005 18:50:14 -0700, poisondart wrote:
- being able to distribute it freely, anybody can modify it
- nobody is allowed to make profit from my code (other than myself)


Terry mentioned OS.org, so I will not repeat that. (opensource.org)

Also, check out http://creativecommons.org.

The no-commercial use license sounds like it might be what you are looking
for. (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/)
Jul 19 '05 #3

P: n/a
poisondart wrote:
Ultimately I desire two things from the license (but not limited to):
- being able to distribute it freely, anybody can modify it
- nobody is allowed to make profit from my code (other than myself)


GPL does something like this, except it doesn't forbid anyone to sell
the software. Also, you do realize that if you make it freely
distributable and modifiable, you could get into the situations where
potential customers say "so why should we buy it from him when we can
get it free from X"?
Jul 19 '05 #4

P: n/a
poisondart wrote:
Hi,

I'm not sure if this is the right group to post this. If not, then I
would appreciate if somebody could point me to the correct group.

This is my first time releasing software to the public and I'm wanting
to release a Python program I wrote for review (and critique) and
testing on other platforms, but also I would like to explore the
different software licenses that are available (there seems to be
many). Since the specification for the programs is knowledge-centric
(related to linguistics), I need a group of people that are
knowledgeable in this area. Is there a place where I can advertise to
look for people who are knowledgeable in Python and linguistics?
The NLTK mailing list might be a good place.

http://nltk.sourceforge.net
Ultimately I desire two things from the license (but not limited to):
- being able to distribute it freely, anybody can modify it
- nobody is allowed to make profit from my code (other than myself)


Well, this is vague. Do you want no one else to *distribute* your code
or derivatives thereof for profit? or do you want no one else to be able
to *use* the code for profit-making activities?

Either way, it's kind of rude and unproductive to ask people to spend
their unpaid time to review, critique, and test your code when only you
can make a profit from it. I highly recommend looking at the GPL. Many
of the people whom you may want to not distribute your code for profit
will probably be reluctant to use GPLed code. As a bonus, if they do,
they will have to contribute their changes back to the community under
the GPL, too, so you can incorporate them into your own code base.

--
Robert Kern
rk***@ucsd.edu

"In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
-- Richard Harter

Jul 19 '05 #5

P: n/a
Thanks for the replies. They have been very helpful. I'll have to read
through the licenses you've listed in more detail, but the creative
commons license of which James William Pye mentions seems to be what
I'll be using.

The reason why I need people to review my code and also the ideas
behind the code is mostly for academic interest...but not necessarily
reserved to an academic audience...which is why I don't want people to
make profit from it. It uses ideas from a language--which would be
ridiculous (to me) for anybody to make profit from selling the
mechanics of a natural language.

The NLTK mailing list seems to be what I was looking for...I'll start
checking that out. Thanks for the link.

Jul 19 '05 #6

P: n/a
On Sat, 28 May 2005 16:48:44 -0700, poisondart wrote:
The reason why I need people to review my code and also the ideas
behind the code is mostly for academic interest...but not necessarily
reserved to an academic audience...which is why I don't want people to
make profit from it. It uses ideas from a language--which would be
ridiculous (to me) for anybody to make profit from selling the
mechanics of a natural language.


Let me toss some scenarios out there for you to think about.

You write your code, and distribute it for free. Very generous of you. I
publish for profit a computer magazine which includes a CD containing
software. I would like to include your code. Can I?

My colleague Betty compiles collections of software, tests them, weeds
out the buggy and useless programs, documents the ones that remain, and
sells the collection for profit. She would like to include your code on
her CD. Can she?

My competitor Barney tries to start a business selling your code for
profit. How long do you think he will stay in business trying to sell
what you are making available for free on your website?

My neighbour Bobby creates a game which he sells for profit. This game
includes a natural language engine allowing the game characters to
(almost) understand real language. He would like to use your code to do
this. Can he?

My business partner Billy wants to sell servers for profit. On this
server, he wants to include a collection of software for added value. He
would like to include your software. Can he?

Regards,

--
Steven

Jul 19 '05 #7

P: n/a
With the exception of the example with neighbour Bobby (which directly
utilizes my code for profit, in which case is a definite no), I don't
see why your other examples should make me reconsider releasing my
software for free--in all the cases you've described, the answer should
be no.

You publish a magazine and include a CD with my code--you are using my
code to attract readers (this, I did not agree to).

The example with colleague Betty does not say whether she has debugged
my code and sold it for profit. If she does, then she will have done
something very selfish in my view--also undesirable. If she hasn't
debugged my code...what is she doing selling my property?

The competitor Barney--This is exactly what I _don't_ want. What's he
doing selling my code?

Business partner Billy is using a scheme similar to the magazine
publisher example.

I plan to release my programs for academic and pedagogical purposes.
The knowledge contained in these programs is the same knowledge that
people use to speak a language--did you buy a copy of the English
language when you decided to learn it?

This is why I feel that it would not make sense for me to sell my
programs for profit.

Thanks,

Jul 19 '05 #8

P: n/a
"poisondart" <po***********@gmail.com> writes:
[...]
Ultimately I desire two things from the license (but not limited to):
- being able to distribute it freely, anybody can modify it
- nobody is allowed to make profit from my code (other than myself)

[...]

If you believe it's feasible to get contributors to (literally) sign
over their copyright to you, consider dual GPL+commercial licensing.
Trolltech do this very successfully with their Qt GUI framework (they
also have educational licenses too, I believe, though the release of
Qt 4/Win under the GPL will presumably make those licenses redundant).

In general, people tend to find it very hard to get unpaid code
contributions if there are annoying restrictions such as prohibition
against commercial distribution of the code, which is one reason why
people pick BSD or GPL licenses. Whatever you do, pick a standard,
well known license, simply because nobody has the time or inclination
to read somebody else's pet license.

(Of course, if the contributions you're most interested in aren't
copyrightable (comment on algorithms or scientific ideas, or
high-level feedback about the implementation of your code, for
example), all this may not be a big issue.)

Though they sometimes mix, the academic world is driven by different
motivations than the open source world, of course. As someone from
the linguistics field, you're probably far better placed than we are
to know about the social environment in which your code will find
itself. Unless there's another Linguistic Pythonista here ;-)
John
Jul 19 '05 #9

P: n/a
"poisondart" <po***********@gmail.com> writes:
[...]
I plan to release my programs for academic and pedagogical purposes.
The knowledge contained in these programs is the same knowledge that
people use to speak a language--did you buy a copy of the English
language when you decided to learn it?

This is why I feel that it would not make sense for me to sell my
programs for profit.


I'm a little curious about your position.

Though code encodes knowledge (hence the word, of course :-), the
system of concepts embodied in your code is not the same thing as the
code itself. Right?

So, firstly, I don't follow your argument there: how does it follow
from the fact that scientific and mathematical knowledge should not be
treated by the law as - in some sense - property (a moot point of
course, though I lean towards your view) that it doesn't 'make sense'
(scare quotes because I'm not sure of your precise meaning) to sell
your software for profit?

Secondly, do you think it's a bad thing for anybody to sell software
that makes use of the *concepts* in your code (provided that the use
of those concepts is not restricted by financial or other legal
means)? If so, why?
John
Jul 19 '05 #10

P: n/a
poisondart wrote:
With the exception of the example with neighbour Bobby (which directly
utilizes my code for profit, in which case is a definite no), I don't
see why your other examples should make me reconsider releasing my
software for free.
I don't think he's trying to make you reconsider releasing the code for
free, he just wants you to think about what you want to happen in
certain scenarios - There are no right or wrong answers, but your
answers will help you decide what license you want to release your code as.
You publish a magazine and include a CD with my code--you are using my
code to attract readers (this, I did not agree to).
Well, depending on what license you use, the agreement may be implicit
in the license. (e.g. the GPL allows Steven to do this, a Microsoft type
EULA doesn't)
The example with colleague Betty does not say whether she has debugged
my code and sold it for profit. If she does, then she will have done
something very selfish in my view--also undesirable.
What's selfish? The fact that she debugged it? The fact that she sold
it? The fact that she debugged it and didn't give you the corrections?
Your answer will help you decide what you want in a license.
If she hasn't debugged my code...what is she doing selling my property?
It depends on how you look at things. She might not be selling your
software - she's selling a list of bug-free and stable programs, which
happens to have a copy of your program on the same CD. If you allow free
redistribution, this is implicit. She's distributing your program for
free (allowed by your license), but is selling her value added service
of certifying that the program is bug free.
I plan to release my programs for academic and pedagogical purposes.
The knowledge contained in these programs is the same knowledge that
people use to speak a language--did you buy a copy of the English
language when you decided to learn it?

This is why I feel that it would not make sense for me to sell my
programs for profit.
You have several things going on here:

Although it might not make sense for *you* to sell your program for
profit, someone else might think it worthwhile. Do you want to disallow
this, why or why not?

Secondly, you should distinguish between being *required* to purchase
the program and being *able* to purchase the program. Just because
Barney is selling a copy of the program doesn't mean other people can't
download it for free off of your website. They *could* pay for it, but
they can also get it for free. Using your English language example, no
one sold me a copy of the English language, but there are a number of
companies which have sold the "knowledge that people use to speak a
language" to me in the form of dictionaries, thesauruses, and grammar
guides over the years. I'm no less free in using the English language,
but Merriam Webster still can make money by selling it back to me.
The competitor Barney--This is exactly what I _don't_ want. What's he
doing selling my code?


Last point to consider. Say you make a restrictive license. No
commercial use. No redistribution. etc. Barney comes along and ignores
the license - distributes the program, sells it for loads of cash.

What are you willing to do? Send a nasty letter? Barney isn't a nice
guy. He doesn't care that you've sent him an angry letter. He'll still
sell your program - he's making loads of money. Are you willing to sue
him? A license doesn't mean much unless you're willing to back it up in
court. Are you prepared to spend years and $$$$ to make Barney stop?

If you aren't making money off of it yourself, having a restrictive
license isn't going to help most hobbyists/academics, for the sole
reason that they don't want to go the the effort required to enforce it.

If all you want is to make sure that your program is always available
for free to academics/the general public, just use a lax license (like
MIT) and provide it for free. So what if someone else charges for it?
They can always go to you to get it for free.

If you're offended at the thought that someone else might be able to
make money off of your program, then a certified "Open Source" license
isn't really going to help - one of the requirements is no bias against
fields of endeavor - they specifically mention the "no commercial use"
clause as forbidden. http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php

That doesn't stop you from choosing a non-"open source" license if you
want - just be aware that that license choice may substantially affect
what the community is willing to give back to you.
Jul 19 '05 #11

P: n/a
> I'm a little curious about your position.

Though code encodes knowledge (hence the word, of course :-), the
system of concepts embodied in your code is not the same thing as the
code itself. Right?

So, firstly, I don't follow your argument there: how does it follow
from the fact that scientific and mathematical knowledge should not be
treated by the law as - in some sense - property (a moot point of
course, though I lean towards your view) that it doesn't 'make sense'
(scare quotes because I'm not sure of your precise meaning) to sell
your software for profit?
Hi,
I view my situation from the point of view of a teacher. That is, to
allude to a proverb, I'm trying to teach a person how to fish. I did
not invent the knowledge of fishing and selling this knowledge is not
what I want to do. I believe that I am putting this knowledge into a
form which I deem learnable for the student.

Secondly, do you think it's a bad thing for anybody to sell software
that makes use of the *concepts* in your code (provided that the use
of those concepts is not restricted by financial or other legal
means)? If so, why?
John


To be honest. I'm not sure. The knowledge that I learnt was all given
to me freely, I just consolidated it into these programs. I feel that
it would be unfair that along this chain of knowledge passing, one
person decided to exploit the free system and harbour his knowledge for
profit.
(Please read the next thread...)

Jul 19 '05 #12

P: n/a
poisondart wrote:

[John J. Lee:]
Secondly, do you think it's a bad thing for anybody to sell software
that makes use of the *concepts* in your code (provided that the use
of those concepts is not restricted by financial or other legal
means)? If so, why?

John


To be honest. I'm not sure. The knowledge that I learnt was all given
to me freely, I just consolidated it into these programs. I feel that
it would be unfair that along this chain of knowledge passing, one
person decided to exploit the free system and harbour his knowledge for
profit.


You can't copyright concepts and ideas. If someone wants to make
commercial use of the knowledge, he can do so, and no license of yours
can stop him.

What you can copyright is your expression of that knowledge in code. So
let's be a little clearer about exactly the actions that you can forbid:
the redistribution of *your code*. Not the use of the knowledge
contained therein. Your choice of license can't affect the issues you
seem to be basing your decision on.

As one academic to another, I am asking you to consider using an
authentic Open Source license rather than one that forbids commercial
redistribution (I don't think you've answered my question, yet, about
whether you want to forbid commercial *use* as well, but I'm against
that, too). You have every right to require that people redistributing
your code to not profit thereby, but with an Open Source license, you
have the opportunity to join a broader, more vibrant community. My
experience with no-commercial-whatever academic projects is that they
almost never develop a real community of code. The initial developer is
the only developer, and the project languishes. Having a real Open
Source license, especially one of the copyleft licenses like the GPL,
encourages users to use the code, improve it, and gift the improvements
back to the community.

You end up with a community of people freely contributing their
expertise to the world. That's a lot more than what you alone could
provide. But you can get the process started.

--
Robert Kern
rk***@ucsd.edu

"In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
-- Richard Harter

Jul 19 '05 #13

P: n/a
On Sunday 29 May 2005 01:52 pm, poisondart wrote:
With the exception of the example with neighbour Bobby (which directly
utilizes my code for profit, in which case is a definite no), I don't
see why your other examples should make me reconsider releasing my
software for free--in all the cases you've described, the answer should
be no. [...]


You have an awfully possessive attitude for someone who's asking
for free help. What are you planning to pay us for the consulting?

"Go get a lawyer and pay them for their time, just like any other
proprietary code-horder." :-P

Only half tongue-in-cheek. ;-)

Seriously though, you are violating the community principles that make
Python and this newsgroup function. That's a selfish and thoughtless
thing to do if you will but think about it for a moment. I have no
interest in your software and it pollutes my environment if it is going
to spew legal landmines into my life! I'd rather you just charged a
license fee so that people would more quickly realize that it is a
hazard. That will encourage a truly free replacement to be made, which
would actually be of some benefit to the community and (ironically
and incidentally) to you as well.

The fact is, people who distribute your code for you are doing you
a favor which it is not unreasonable for them to receive a remuneration
for. The pitiful small cost that the market drives things like CD collections
of free software to makes the practical impact of allowing such sales
virtually nil. Certainly it has no effect on you. No one I know misrepresents
that as "ownership" of the software --- it's just a copying/convenience or
review service, and that's what the prices represent. Heck, I can review
MS Windows in a magazine, and you'd call it profiteering freely without
paying them a license fee. God help us all if the courts were ever to accept
such interpretations.

And the "principle of the thing" is nonsense: you are asking for something
for nothing. If you want the advantages of free software (peer review,
easy distribution, etc) you need to embrace the whole package, which
includes the most basic user freedoms. *That* would be the principled
thing to do.

Mind you, "academic use" is also commercial, by your ridiculously broad
interpretation of commercial use: Surely other scholars, if they make
use of your software will be using it to justify their salaries, won't they?

Of course, you're *entitled* to use any twisted, snare-throwing license
you like, but don't expect to be respected for it.

--
Terry Hancock ( hancock at anansispaceworks.com )
Anansi Spaceworks http://www.anansispaceworks.com

Jul 19 '05 #14

P: n/a
If this thread has shown anything it is I'm a bit green with respect to
software licenses, but the other thing is that I consider myself as an
isolated case and I wanted to know if there were others who wanted the
same thing as me.

I'm curious to know what the money that open source or GPL'd projects
get and what this money means to these people's overall income. I am
sure that any amount would motivate somebody to continue their work on
a project, but myself in particular, I consider my project to be a tool
for teaching and I view teaching as helping others...which I would
gladly offer without price. I wanted to see if there were others who
shared my view of helping others freely with their knowledge.

Yes, what I ask may seem ridiculous, but I don't view it that way.
Instead, I find that it is the implication of using a restrictive
license such as I described to be ridiculous: if there is no monetary
gain option in the license, then this implies that nobody (or very few)
will be willing to do any work or "asking for something for nothing".
It isn't for nothing if you value knowledge and learning.

I admit that my view is a bit idealistic which leads me to believe that
maybe I should reconsider the whole decision altogether.

Jul 19 '05 #15

P: n/a
"poisondart" <po***********@gmail.com> writes:
If this thread has shown anything it is I'm a bit green with respect to
software licenses, but the other thing is that I consider myself as an
isolated case and I wanted to know if there were others who wanted the
same thing as me.
You're going through the same issues that most of us involved in free
software have gone through at some time. Welcome.
I'm curious to know what the money that open source or GPL'd projects
get and what this money means to these people's overall income.
Well, it varies, but I'd say most of the time, it's done as a
community contribution, not for money. It's similar to doctors doing
free medical clinics, lawyers doing pro bono legal work, etc.
However, it's possible to make a living writing GPL'd code, and some
people do that. (I've done it in the past).
Yes, what I ask may seem ridiculous, but I don't view it that way.
Instead, I find that it is the implication of using a restrictive
license such as I described to be ridiculous: if there is no monetary
gain option in the license, then this implies that nobody (or very few)
will be willing to do any work or "asking for something for nothing".
It isn't for nothing if you value knowledge and learning.
Well, long experience has shown that in practice, such clauses tend to
turn away users and developers.
I admit that my view is a bit idealistic which leads me to believe that
maybe I should reconsider the whole decision altogether.


The really idealistic view is that once the program is published, the
author has no special relation to it that others don't have. This is
what the GPL tries to approximate, by giving users similar rights to
the author's (e.g. guaranteed access to the source code).

Note also that in your other posts, you're using "selling" in an
imprecise and confusing way. This might help:

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.html

Some more articles on the general free software topic:

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/
Jul 19 '05 #16

P: n/a
Paul Rubin wrote:
"poisondart" <po***********@gmail.com> writes:

Yes, what I ask may seem ridiculous, but I don't view it that way.
Instead, I find that it is the implication of using a restrictive
license such as I described to be ridiculous: if there is no monetary
gain option in the license, then this implies that nobody (or very few)
will be willing to do any work or "asking for something for nothing".
It isn't for nothing if you value knowledge and learning.


Well, long experience has shown that in practice, such clauses tend to
turn away users and developers.


And for thoroughness, allow me to add "even if they have no intention or
desire to profit monetarily." I can't explain exactly why this is the
case, but it seems to be true in the overwhelming majority of cases.
Academic projects with non-commercial clauses languish in obscurity
while academic Open Source projects thrive. The contributors to the Open
Source projects value knowledge and learning just as much as the lonely
developers of the non-commercial-only projects, but for whatever reason,
they don't contribute to those non-commercial-only projects.

--
Robert Kern
rk***@ucsd.edu

"In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
-- Richard Harter

Jul 19 '05 #17

P: n/a
On Thu, Jun 02, 2005 at 01:57:25AM -0700, Robert Kern wrote:
And for thoroughness, allow me to add "even if they have no intention or
desire to profit monetarily." I can't explain exactly why this is the
case, but it seems to be true in the overwhelming majority of cases.
Academic projects with non-commercial clauses languish in obscurity
while academic Open Source projects thrive. The contributors to the Open

Well, it's easily explained. (Well at least my motivation in this case)
I do not touch things that I cannot use "generally" and being a
"commercial" IT consultant this basically means:
*) opensource is better than commercial payware.
(because "for free" (as in beer) is usable in more contexts)
*) GPL is acceptable for much stuff, because I can install GPL'ed
stuff for a customer.
*) GPL is not acceptable for "library" stuff, because as a software
developer I'm sometimes forced to do "closed" stuff.
(Yep, even nowadays there are place where it's basically a legal
requirement.)

Implications:

*) qt is a bordercase: GPL for free, or commercial for pay. Not perfect but
good enough.
*) A number of O-R mappers for Python are of no relevance to me,
because they are GPL. O-R mappers are development libraries.

The idea is that I'm mostly not interested in learning tools that are
not of general use.

So basically, stuff not meeting this criteria, is only interesting if
it's unique:

*) commercial stuff is only interesting if there is no competing
open-source project.
*) GPL'ed "building blocks" are only interesting when there is no
competing LGPL version. Example: OCR on Linux/Unix. There are no
perfect solutions there so a GPL'ed solution might be
ok. (Especially because one can use OCR without linking with a lib
*grin*)

Andreas
Jul 19 '05 #18

P: n/a
Andreas Kostyrka <an*****@kostyrka.org> wrote:
*) GPL is not acceptable for "library" stuff, because as a software
developer I'm sometimes forced to do "closed" stuff.
(Yep, even nowadays there are place where it's basically a legal
requirement.)


I'm curious about this last one.

The GPL does not require that derivative works be published, or that
they be donated back to the original author. All it requires is that
you pass on the rights that you received to the recipient of your
derivative work -- in this case, your customer alone.

Of course, if your customer is a proprietary software firm looking to
own and sell the software restrictively, then they don't want those
terms. But if they're just looking to use it privately and internally,
I'm curious how the GPL would get in the way of that.

--
Karl A. Krueger <kk******@example.edu> { s/example/whoi/ }
Jul 19 '05 #19

P: n/a
Am Donnerstag, den 02.06.2005, 17:52 +0000 schrieb Karl A. Krueger:
Andreas Kostyrka <an*****@kostyrka.org> wrote:
*) GPL is not acceptable for "library" stuff, because as a software
developer I'm sometimes forced to do "closed" stuff.
(Yep, even nowadays there are place where it's basically a legal
requirement.)


I'm curious about this last one.

The GPL does not require that derivative works be published, or that
they be donated back to the original author. All it requires is that
you pass on the rights that you received to the recipient of your
derivative work -- in this case, your customer alone.

Of course, if your customer is a proprietary software firm looking to
own and sell the software restrictively, then they don't want those
terms. But if they're just looking to use it privately and internally,
I'm curious how the GPL would get in the way of that.

Well, basically there are some obstacles:
a) legal departments
b) the feeling of the customer that he gets something "less" (because
the customer doesn't have full control)
c) problem cases like external contractors

Basically my points are:
a) there are certain "feelings" that seem to be common to most open
source people. They might vary quite a bit in details but somehow we all
swim more or less in the same river.
b) as an example I've explained what my personal position in this is.

Another take on the GPL (again my philosophy) is, that a license is good
if it doesn't restrict. GPL'ed projects are successful mostly when the
GPL adds benefits.

GPL licensed projects have benefits:
* strong anti-fork pressure. (Because you cannot just fork the
code and go closed. Any fork must have a real good reason d'etre
or it will die.)
* community orientation -> GPL gives a strong "it's our code we
are working on" feeling.
* a growing number of software that is only available under the
GPL.
But it also has a number of drawbacks, like:
* It forces the GPL (more or less) on all users [applies only to
library building blocks]
* Without copyright assignments it leads to patchy ownership
structure. E.g. changing the license for the Linux kernel would
be a really major undertaking.

The point is that the license should be tailored to the intended use of
your software.

And think about it like that: "What can I give my users so that they
become interested in my software?"

Just being able to do something like burning a DVD might be enough for
many "typical" Windows users, but the opensource crowd usually demands
more. Like in more blueprints, more rights, etc.

And fact is that the basic environment without artifical constructs like
intellectual property legaslation favors the users:

Without patents, in most cases somebody will reimplement your software,
if there is need.

Without copyrights, the users will just copy your binary ;)

Andreas

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Jul 19 '05 #20

P: n/a
Andreas Kostyrka wrote:
On Thu, Jun 02, 2005 at 01:57:25AM -0700, Robert Kern wrote:
And for thoroughness, allow me to add "even if they have no intention or
desire to profit monetarily." I can't explain exactly why this is the
case, but it seems to be true in the overwhelming majority of cases.
Academic projects with non-commercial clauses languish in obscurity
while academic Open Source projects thrive. The contributors to the Open
Well, it's easily explained. (Well at least my motivation in this case)
I do not touch things that I cannot use "generally" and being a
"commercial" IT consultant this basically means:
*) opensource is better than commercial payware.
(because "for free" (as in beer) is usable in more contexts)
*) GPL is acceptable for much stuff, because I can install GPL'ed
stuff for a customer.
*) GPL is not acceptable for "library" stuff, because as a software
developer I'm sometimes forced to do "closed" stuff.
(Yep, even nowadays there are place where it's basically a legal
requirement.)

Implications:

*) qt is a bordercase: GPL for free, or commercial for pay. Not perfect but
good enough.
*) A number of O-R mappers for Python are of no relevance to me,
because they are GPL. O-R mappers are development libraries.

But this would only be a restriction if the code were to be
redistributed, of course. It's stil perfectly legal to use it internaly
without making the modified source available.
The idea is that I'm mostly not interested in learning tools that are
not of general use.

So basically, stuff not meeting this criteria, is only interesting if
it's unique:

*) commercial stuff is only interesting if there is no competing
open-source project.
*) GPL'ed "building blocks" are only interesting when there is no
competing LGPL version. Example: OCR on Linux/Unix. There are no
perfect solutions there so a GPL'ed solution might be
ok. (Especially because one can use OCR without linking with a lib
*grin*)

Andreas


regards
Steve
--
Steve Holden +1 703 861 4237 +1 800 494 3119
Holden Web LLC http://www.holdenweb.com/
Python Web Programming http://pydish.holdenweb.com/

Jul 19 '05 #21

P: n/a
On Sun, 05 Jun 2005 03:57:29 -0400, Terry Reedy wrote:
"Robert Kern" <rk***@ucsd.edu> wrote in message
news:d7**********@sea.gmane.org...
Mike Meyer wrote:
I've heard people argue otherwise on this case. In particular, if you
allow an employee to use your GPL'ed-but-not-distributed software,
they are the end user, and have all the rights granted by the GPL. So
they can distribute the software - possibly to your
competitors. Employment contracts can't prohibit this, because the GPL
specifically disallows "distribution" (allowing your employee to use
the software) under licenses that restrict the rights granted by the
GPL.
Well, the FSF at least thinks that internal use within an organization
does not constitute distribution.


The fact that GPL effectively discriminates in favor of large corporations
(and other organizations) and programmers employed by such (versus those
contracting with such), is something I don't like about it.


I'm sorry, I don't follow your reasoning here. How does the GPL
discriminate in favour of large corporations? What advantage does the
corporation get that I don't get?

The way I see it, if my left hand and right hand both use the software,
that isn't distribution. And if Acme Inc's accounting department and sales
department both use the software, that shouldn't count as distribution
either, in precisely the same way that there has been no transfer of
ownership when Fred from Accounting takes an unused computer from Sales
and starts using it himself.
This seems
contrary to the spirit of the thing. It certainly supports the myth that
organizations are 'people'.
By law, corporations (and possibly some other organisations) *are* people.
Not natural people like you or I, but nevertheless people. For good or
bad, this is the legal fact (or perhaps "legal fiction") in most
countries, and not a myth.

What if a whole country claimed to be 'one organization' (as the entire
Soviet Union once was, in a real sense).
I doubt that was ever the case, not even in a figurative sense. But for
the sake of the argument, I'll accept that (say) the country of Freedonia
might claim the entire population of Freedonia to be a single organisation.
Could it distribute modifications
'privately' while denying such to the rest of the world?


Freedonia is a country. Unless some other country takes them on, they can
do whatever they like within their borders because they make the laws.

Of course, they may run foul of international law, and may suffer the
consequences, which may range from angry words in the UN to trade
sanctions to a blockade all the way to invasion (although probably not
over some random piece of GPLed code).

But this is hardly a problem unique to the GPL. What if you publish code
under the BSD licence, and Freedonia rips your copyright notice out of
it and tries to pass it off as their own creation? What if Microsoft
licences Freedonia some software under Shared Source, and they promptly
modify and distribute the source code?

When nation states decide they are beyond the law, or subject only to
whatever laws it is convenient for them to follow, no licence will protect
you.
--
Steven

Jul 19 '05 #22

P: n/a
max
Steven D'Aprano <st***@REMOVETHIScyber.com.au> wrote in
news:pa****************************@REMOVETHIScybe r.com.au:
By law, corporations (and possibly some other organisations)
*are* people. Not natural people like you or I, but nevertheless
people. For good or bad, this is the legal fact (or perhaps
"legal fiction") in most countries, and not a myth.


s/myth/legal absurdity/

This is one thing that bothers me about the gpl. It essentially tries
to create 'code as a legal entity'. That is, it gives rights not to
the creator of some code, but to the code itself. For me, the fact
that corporations are considered people by the law is ridiculous.
Using a license that ends up doing the same thing with code leaves a
bad taste in my mouth.

max
Jul 19 '05 #23

P: n/a
On Mon, 06 Jun 2005 16:12:18 +0000, max wrote:
This is one thing that bothers me about the gpl. It essentially tries
to create 'code as a legal entity'. That is, it gives rights not to
the creator of some code, but to the code itself.
Can you please show me where in the GPL it gives rights to the code
itself? Because, frankly, I think you are mistaken.

Of course, I might be wrong in this instance, and I always welcome
corrections.
For me, the fact
that corporations are considered people by the law is ridiculous.
Ridiculous? I don't think so. Take, for example, Acme Inc. Acme purchases
a new factory. Who owns the factory? The CEO? The Chairperson of the Board
of Directors? Split in equal shares between all the directors? Split
between all the thousands of shareholders? Society has to decide between
these methods.

(Of course, society can choose to hedge its bets by creating multiple
entities that use different rules, such as partnerships, trusts, public
corporations, limited corporations, etc.)

None of these alternatives are *wrong*, but they all have various
disadvantages. The legal fiction that corporations are legally persons is
a work-around for these disadvantages, and it works quite well in many
circumstances. To call it ridiculous is, well, ridiculous. Ownership is a
legal fiction in any case, so it is no more ridiculous to say that a
collective entity such as a corporation owns property than it is to say
that an individual being owns property.

However, if you wanted to argue that giving corporations all the
privileges of legal personhood with none of the responsibilities caused
more harm than good, I would agree with you. I take it you've seen "The
Corporation"?

Using a license that ends up doing the same thing with code leaves a
bad taste in my mouth.


Of course you are free to use some other licence. But without evidence, I
do not accept that the GPL attempts to give rights to code.

--
Steven

Jul 19 '05 #24

P: n/a
On Sat, Jun 04, 2005 at 11:49:28PM -0700, Robert Kern wrote:
Well, the FSF at least thinks that internal use within an organization
does not constitute distribution.

Well, the problem are contractors. It's very important (for example in
Germany) for a number of legal reasons that contractors are separate
from the organization.
This basically makes it a case of distribution.

And while the GPL FAQ claims that this is not a problem, it seems only
to handle the easy case: Company X gives a "standard" SP to
contractor C, and C returns SP2.

While this is okay, the problems start when X discovers that it wants
to distribute SP2 to contractor C2, because it has to do this under
the GPL. Contractor C2 might by free will refrain from distributing
SP2, but putting that as a requirement on paper would violate the GPL.

Basically having a GPLed internal program limits what a company might
do with it in the future ;)

Andreas
Jul 19 '05 #25

P: n/a
max
Steven D'Aprano <st***@REMOVETHIScyber.com.au> wrote in
news:pa****************************@REMOVETHIScybe r.com.au:
On Mon, 06 Jun 2005 16:12:18 +0000, max wrote:
This is one thing that bothers me about the gpl. It essentially
tries to create 'code as a legal entity'. That is, it gives
rights not to the creator of some code, but to the code itself.
Can you please show me where in the GPL it gives rights to the
code itself? Because, frankly, I think you are mistaken.

Of course, I might be wrong in this instance, and I always
welcome corrections.
For me, the fact
that corporations are considered people by the law is
ridiculous.


Ridiculous? I don't think so. Take, for example, Acme Inc. Acme
purchases a new factory. Who owns the factory? The CEO? The
Chairperson of the Board of Directors? Split in equal shares
between all the directors? Split between all the thousands of
shareholders? Society has to decide between these methods.

(Of course, society can choose to hedge its bets by creating
multiple entities that use different rules, such as partnerships,
trusts, public corporations, limited corporations, etc.)

None of these alternatives are *wrong*, but they all have various
disadvantages. The legal fiction that corporations are legally
persons is a work-around for these disadvantages, and it works
quite well in many circumstances. To call it ridiculous is, well,
ridiculous. Ownership is a legal fiction in any case, so it is no
more ridiculous to say that a collective entity such as a
corporation owns property than it is to say that an individual
being owns property.

However, if you wanted to argue that giving corporations all the
privileges of legal personhood with none of the responsibilities
caused more harm than good, I would agree with you. I take it
you've seen "The Corporation"?


I haven't seen "The Corporation", but yes, I was reaching for the
priviledges/responsibilities balance.
Using a license that ends up doing the same thing with code
leaves a bad taste in my mouth.


Of course you are free to use some other licence. But without
evidence, I do not accept that the GPL attempts to give rights to
code.

Perhaps 'attempts' is too strong a word. Maybe 'ends up giving' would
help my argument more. The best example I can come up with at the
moment is programmer A releases a project under the gpl. Programmer B
makes a substantial contribution to the project, which pA reads
through and accepts. Later, pA decides that he would like to release
the project under a more liberal license. To me, whether he legally
can under the gpl is a very murky subject, as pB might not agree, and
pA, having looked through/thought about pB's contribution might have
some trouble proving that he implemented any matching functionality
without referencing pB's earlier contribution, which if he did
reference it(even by memory), would presumably require him to continue
using the gpl.

I guess my argument is that with multiple contributors, the gpl, in
comparison to say, a BSD style license, grants power to the code. If 3
people work on a gpl project, they must agree to any changes. If 3
people work on a BSD style project, they each can do whatever the hell
they like with the code. So, in my opinion, the gpl ends up giving
perhaps not rights, but certainly power, to the actual code base.

Based on the limited coherence of this answer I probably need to think
about it somemore,
max

Jul 19 '05 #26

P: n/a
max:
For me, the fact
that corporations are considered people by the law is ridiculous.

Steven D'Aprano wrote: Ridiculous? I don't think so. Take, for example, Acme Inc. Acme purchases
a new factory. Who owns the factory? The CEO? The Chairperson of the Board
of Directors? Split in equal shares between all the directors? Split
between all the thousands of shareholders? Society has to decide between
these methods.


Getting off-topic for c.l.py. Might want to move this to, for example,
the talk thread for
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_personhood
which is
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Corporate_personhood
and read also
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporation

Andrew
da***@dalkescientific.com

Jul 19 '05 #27

P: n/a
On Mon, Jun 06, 2005 at 06:08:36PM -0000, max wrote:
I guess my argument is that with multiple contributors, the gpl, in
comparison to say, a BSD style license, grants power to the code. If 3
people work on a gpl project, they must agree to any changes. If 3
people work on a BSD style project, they each can do whatever the hell
they like with the code. So, in my opinion, the gpl ends up giving
perhaps not rights, but certainly power, to the actual code base.

Well, but it's not comparable: GPL without copyright assignment just
leads to "community-owned" projects. Every part-owner owns his
part. And it makes relicensing (taking the project closed-source) very
difficult.

That's a design feature, not a bug ;)

Andreas
Jul 19 '05 #28

P: n/a
max wrote:
Perhaps 'attempts' is too strong a word. Maybe 'ends up giving' would
help my argument more. The best example I can come up with at the
moment is programmer A releases a project under the gpl. Programmer B
makes a substantial contribution to the project, which pA reads
through and accepts. Later, pA decides that he would like to release
the project under a more liberal license. To me, whether he legally
can under the gpl is a very murky subject, as pB might not agree, and
pA, having looked through/thought about pB's contribution might have
some trouble proving that he implemented any matching functionality
without referencing pB's earlier contribution, which if he did
reference it(even by memory), would presumably require him to continue
using the gpl.

I guess my argument is that with multiple contributors, the gpl, in
comparison to say, a BSD style license, grants power to the code. If 3
people work on a gpl project, they must agree to any changes. If 3
people work on a BSD style project, they each can do whatever the hell
they like with the code. So, in my opinion, the gpl ends up giving
perhaps not rights, but certainly power, to the actual code base.


There's no power being granted to code. All of the power is in the hands
of pA and pB. If pA wants a more liberal license to pB's code, then he
needs to ask for one. pB can grant that permission (assuming the code is
his and not actually pC's). There's nothing special about the GPL in
this respect. The same situation works with the BSD license, too,
although the BSD license is pretty much rock-bottom in terms of
restrictions such that there's almost never a *desire* to ask for more
permissions.

The code has never been granted any legal powers. It's still just
contributors.

--
Robert Kern
rk***@ucsd.edu

"In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
-- Richard Harter

Jul 19 '05 #29

P: n/a
max wrote:
Steven D'Aprano <st***@REMOVETHIScyber.com.au> wrote in
news:pa****************************@REMOVETHIScybe r.com.au:

On Mon, 06 Jun 2005 16:12:18 +0000, max wrote:

This is one thing that bothers me about the gpl. It essentially
tries to create 'code as a legal entity'. That is, it gives
rights not to the creator of some code, but to the code itself.
Can you please show me where in the GPL it gives rights to the
code itself? Because, frankly, I think you are mistaken.

Of course, I might be wrong in this instance, and I always
welcome corrections.

For me, the fact
that corporations are considered people by the law is
ridiculous.


Ridiculous? I don't think so. Take, for example, Acme Inc. Acme
purchases a new factory. Who owns the factory? The CEO? The
Chairperson of the Board of Directors? Split in equal shares
between all the directors? Split between all the thousands of
shareholders? Society has to decide between these methods.

(Of course, society can choose to hedge its bets by creating
multiple entities that use different rules, such as partnerships,
trusts, public corporations, limited corporations, etc.)

None of these alternatives are *wrong*, but they all have various
disadvantages. The legal fiction that corporations are legally
persons is a work-around for these disadvantages, and it works
quite well in many circumstances. To call it ridiculous is, well,
ridiculous. Ownership is a legal fiction in any case, so it is no
more ridiculous to say that a collective entity such as a
corporation owns property than it is to say that an individual
being owns property.

However, if you wanted to argue that giving corporations all the
privileges of legal personhood with none of the responsibilities
caused more harm than good, I would agree with you. I take it
you've seen "The Corporation"?

I haven't seen "The Corporation", but yes, I was reaching for the
priviledges/responsibilities balance.

Using a license that ends up doing the same thing with code
leaves a bad taste in my mouth.


Of course you are free to use some other licence. But without
evidence, I do not accept that the GPL attempts to give rights to
code.


Perhaps 'attempts' is too strong a word. Maybe 'ends up giving' would
help my argument more. The best example I can come up with at the
moment is programmer A releases a project under the gpl. Programmer B
makes a substantial contribution to the project, which pA reads
through and accepts. Later, pA decides that he would like to release
the project under a more liberal license. To me, whether he legally
can under the gpl is a very murky subject, as pB might not agree, and
pA, having looked through/thought about pB's contribution might have
some trouble proving that he implemented any matching functionality
without referencing pB's earlier contribution, which if he did
reference it(even by memory), would presumably require him to continue
using the gpl.

I guess my argument is that with multiple contributors, the gpl, in
comparison to say, a BSD style license, grants power to the code. If 3
people work on a gpl project, they must agree to any changes. If 3
people work on a BSD style project, they each can do whatever the hell
they like with the code. So, in my opinion, the gpl ends up giving
perhaps not rights, but certainly power, to the actual code base.

That argument is bogus if you do what the PSF is attempting to do, which
is to ask contributors to grant the PSF rights to redistribute under its
chosen license. After that you can take your contribution and publish it
in a book, republish it under a different license, whatever. The fact
that the PSF has a license to redistribute your contribution can't be
rescinded by your subsequently changing the license you use to
distribute the software.

How do you manage to equate "must agree to any changes" with "granting
power to the code"?


Based on the limited coherence of this answer I probably need to think
about it somemore,
max

:-)

Licensing is unfortunately less trivial that we would like it to be.

the-road-t-hell-is-paved-with-good-intentions-ly y'rs - steve
--
Steve Holden +1 703 861 4237 +1 800 494 3119
Holden Web LLC http://www.holdenweb.com/
Python Web Programming http://pydish.holdenweb.com/

Jul 19 '05 #30

P: n/a
On Thursday 02 June 2005 01:42 am, poisondart wrote:
If this thread has shown anything it is I'm a bit green with respect to
software licenses,
Yep. We've all been there at some time, though. ;-)
but the other thing is that I consider myself as an
isolated case and I wanted to know if there were others who wanted the
same thing as me.
I think the real problem is that you *think* you want something which is
not what you *really* want. For example, I think you don't really get the
full range of implications of a "non-commercial" clause, nor do you fully
appreciate its chilling effects on development.
I'm curious to know what the money that open source or GPL'd projects
get and what this money means to these people's overall income.
Free-licensed projects get almost no direct money for development in
probably 99% of cases.

On the other hand, people make billions of dollars every year off of the
*use* of free-licensed software (consider Apache, for example). Quite a
few of the people making the money are naturally part of the developer
community for their particular gravy-train.

That's because they generally have specific needs they want to see the
software address, and it's worth the effort to contribute the necessary
changes. The community benefits from the changes (which is why
"copyleft" is good), and they benefit (a lot!) from not having to maintain
a separate patched version of the code.
I am
sure that any amount would motivate somebody to continue their work on
a project, but myself in particular, I consider my project to be a tool
for teaching and I view teaching as helping others...which I would
gladly offer without price.
So you're unpaid teacher? What do you do for a living, then? ;-)
I wanted to see if there were others who
shared my view of helping others freely with their knowledge.
Actually, you see, as I've already tried to point out to you,
using software to teach *is* COMMERCIAL USE of the software. At
least it is, if you draw a salary for teaching. Yes, I know that teaching
is a public benefit and a joy, and I do occasionally teach for free, but
most of the time, even teachers need to make a living, right? Is it
right to restrict use of the software only to those who teach without
pay?
Yes, what I ask may seem ridiculous, but I don't view it that way.
Instead, I find that it is the implication of using a restrictive
license such as I described to be ridiculous: if there is no monetary
gain option in the license, then this implies that nobody (or very few)
will be willing to do any work or "asking for something for nothing".
It isn't for nothing if you value knowledge and learning.
It took me awhile to parse that: You are saying that the implication that
the lack of a "monetary gain option" will chill development is ridiculous.

Sorry, but history disagrees with you: projects with restrictions on sale
prices for copies of the software have much reduced distribution and
development interest, because it prevents distribution. Note that prices
will be driven down by natural market forces anyway --- just because
source A can sell a copy of free software doesn't prevent source B from
giving it away, and this is in practice what happens. But it does allow
source A to bundle copies and cover CD-ROM distribution and
printing expenses, pay for web and FTP servers, etc. Even if they only
capture a small "pay for convenience" market, they may be able to do
this, thus providing an important resource for users of free software.

When you put in a clause to restrict such sales you are attacking a
friendly: somebody who the community values as a service provider.
It may well be that 9/10ths of my free software is downloaded directly
from developer sites or from free download sites, but even many of those
sites are supported by advertising, and I want the OPTION to buy
copies on a CD if I need or want to. That's not at all the same as buying
proprietary software, where I would be FORCED to make such a purchase,
and then at an artificially inflated price.

Finally, you are wrongly conflating a "restriction against selling copies"
with a "restriction against all commercial use of the software". The latter
includes virtually EVERY use of the software if interpreted broadly
enough. You yourself appear to take a very broad view of this --- with
one exception: you paradoxically do not regard drawing a salary as a
teacher as "commercial". But a salary supported partly by the use
of software is one of the more clearcut ways to commercially benefit ---
much more direct than supporting advertising revenues, which you
*do* regard as commercial. This is a contradiction, which just goes
to show how poorly defined the idea of "commercial use" is, and
therefore why it is a bad thing to try to control in a license.
I admit that my view is a bit idealistic which leads me to believe that
maybe I should reconsider the whole decision altogether.


Actually, I think you're being hypocritical in thinking that it is idealistic
to regard your salary as a teacher as somehow "non-commercial". You
have succombed to the "higher profession" delusion. Sure, you might
love your work, but do you really want someone to *force* you to do it
for free? How are you going to pay for your supper, then? Do you
feel that you should have to take up another job to support your
teaching habit? Do you think that society would benefit from forcing
teachers to do that? I certainly don't.

That's what I think you should be reconsidering. You have somehow
tricked yourself into thinking that you are not an economic being just
because you work in academia, and then you are going on to scoff
at other people for being economic --- putting you into the realm of
hypocrisy.

Now, it might be perfectly realistic (and indeed, idealistic) to imagine
that such commercial concerns should not effect what you teach, or
how you teach it. But that *can* be true in any form of human
endeavor --- teaching is not unique in this respect. Even a farmer
may farm more out of love of the vocation than because it is
particularly profitable (which, as with teaching, it often is not). Should
a farmer be regarded as some dirty capitalist because he uses Gnumeric
to tally his accounts? That is commercial use of the software.

I think you will actually get what you want by just using a copyleft
free-license like the GPL. This will prevent the software from being
absorbed into a commercial proprietary product, which is what I
consider the reasonable part of what you are asking for.

--
Terry Hancock ( hancock at anansispaceworks.com )
Anansi Spaceworks http://www.anansispaceworks.com

Jul 19 '05 #31

P: n/a
1. You seem to ignore the fact that volunteer teachers exist.

2. I aspire to not repeat history. Esp. history that I don't completely
agree with...

The description I supplied for the license I had in mind was not ready
for your scrutiny, but as somebody else said licensing is less trivial
than we would like it to be. In practice, the GPL would probably be the
closest to what I'd want, but the problem is that I don't agree with
the practice. Why? because it's not tailored to how I want to release
my software.

This discussion has gone far out of my interest. Thank you all you've
made me realize the complexity and breadth of the issue. I'm just going
to keep coding and re-think cautiously the future of my software.

Jul 19 '05 #32

This discussion thread is closed

Replies have been disabled for this discussion.