[dorkbotpdx-blabber] Software licensing woes; request for comments!

David Frech david at nimblemachines.com
Tue Feb 14 16:19:28 EST 2012

Thanks, all, for the feedback.

@Nick -- that's probably what I'll do. I esp like your idea of an
exception for non-commercial use.

@Ward -- I'm glad you included your "long-winded" story. It
illustrates the issues involved in a useful way.

@Russell -- I am, for all intents and purposes, the sole author, so
I'm not worried about copyright assignments, etc. But thanks for the
heads up.

@Matt -- like Ghostscript. Bleeding edge was Aladdin Public License
(restrictive); older code was GPL. Peter Deutsch apparently made a
living for a while licensing GS this way. It's an interesting idea.
Unfortunately, muforth is sort of a rolling release. It's perpetually
unfinished and always somewhat broken. The only way to identify a
"release" is to use the sha1 hash of a Git commit... So a uniform
license probably makes more sense.

I used to be a huge fan of the GPL. Back in the early 90s -- before
Linux!! -- I had a paper copy of the GNU Emacs manual, and I read and
enjoyed (and mostly agreed with) RMS's rants thererin.

In 2000 or so I made a blessed escape from Linux and started running
FreeBSD, and fell in love both with the system (which I still think,
if you can get it installed, is superior _technically_ to Linux) and
with the more permissive license. I thought "this is what freedom
_really_ means". But if you're the Python or FreeBSD foundation, with
corporate sponsors who want to use the code commercially, a
permissive, BSD-style license makes sense. But for me, and for
muforth, lately I'm not so sure.

I spent a ton of time last night reading rants and license stuff on
fsf.org and gnu.org and I'm leaning heavily toward GPLv3. I like that
GPL requires the propagation of attribution. I like the
"anti-tivoization" additions. I think the other changes make sense,
since it's a different world than it was when GPLv2 was released, in

- D

On Mon, Feb 13, 2012 at 4:59 PM, Matt Youell <matt at youell.com> wrote:
> On 2/13/12 3:14 PM, David Frech wrote:
>> Just curious what other folks on the list think about this.
>> muforth -- my Forth implementation -- is currently BSD-licensed and
>> hosted (as an open source project) at github. It was GPLed initially
>> but I wanted a license that was more free. ;-) (I think it's funny
>> that the FSF thinks that forcing other people to make their changes
>> public makes them more "free".)
> Ditto.
> What about a "version behind" approach to the license? Put the newest, best
> code under commercial license. When you bump up a major revision, release
> the now "old" version under an open source license. I don't think this would
> work with GPL for reasons Russ pointed out, but I think you'd be ok with
> BSD. (That way when someone gives you a bugfix you can still apply it to the
> commercial version.)
> Do I really need to say IANAL? Just in case then. :)
> --
> -/matt/-
> http://youell.com/matt
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