Site Licensing - Creative Commons

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che...@gmail.com

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Dec 23, 2008, 4:19:56 PM12/23/08
to

Recently we were looking through our web properties and checking our
licensing and noted a few inconsistencies we need to clean-up. Today
we're using a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license for
most of the web properties, but not all, and we use different language
in a few places. We’re addressing CC in at least two slightly
different ways:
Version (a): https://developer.mozilla.org/Project:Copyrights
Version (b): http://www.mozilla.org/foundation/licensing/website-content.html

Propose we adopt a consistent Creative Commons license framework for
all the web properties that also accounts for the non-CC content.
(.org is already under CC, but with different formulations.) It seems
we have the following types of content on our websites to address: i)
user generated content non-code; ii) user generated content (code);
iii) trademarks; and iv) Mozilla created content. I believe the CC
Attribution-Share Alike license is the proper license for us as it
allows broad use, promotes relicensing on same terms, and includes
attribution (plus its what we’re using today). Note, since this post
is just before the holidays, we'll wait a bit to make sure folks have
a chance to comment.

Detail Implementation:
• Use the framework and structure in Version (a) above with some minor
modifications on all web properties. The revised text is shown below.
• Conform “Legal Disclaimers and Limitations” so that it indicates
that user contributed content is CC as well subject to the terms
below.
• Remove and replace the exiting footer regarding copyright and
creative commons with the following:

Footer Draft Language:
"Except where otherwise [noted], content on this site is licensed
under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license v3.0 or
any later version."

o “Noted” links to the statement below.
o Show appropriate CC logo with footer on every page.
o This formulation is the same as what CC uses on their website.

Footer Links to this Text:

"Mozilla.org and Mozilla.com Site Licensing Policies

The Mozilla web sites and wikis have been prepared with the
contributions of many authors, both within and outside Mozilla.
Unless otherwise indicated, the content is available under the terms
of the Creative Commons: Attribution-Sharealike license v3.0 or any
later version. A [summary] of the terms of this license is available,
as well as its [detailed terms].

If you wish to contribute content to this web site, you will be asked
to make your content available under the Creative Commons Attribution-
Share alike license, and your code samples available under the MIT
License. Adding to the Mozilla web sites or Mozilla wikis without
specifying the terms under which you have made your addition means you
agree that your contributions will be available under these licenses.
Copyright for contributed materials remains with the author unless the
author assigns it to someone else.

While our intention is to make most of the content available under the
CC license above, the following material and content are not licensed
under the Creative Commons license:
• Portions of the web site are © 1998–2008 by individual mozilla.org
contributors.
• The trademarks and logos of the Mozilla Foundation and any third
party, as well as the look and feel of this web site, and works of
authorship (like logos and graphic design).
• Software provided by Mozilla, contributors, or third-parties.
• Code samples are available under the terms of the MIT License.
• Any contribution or content that expressly indicates that the author
intends for another license to apply, for example, add-ons, documents,
code contributions, or graphic designs.

For more information about these and other licensing policies, please
see our [Licensing Policies page]. If you have any other questions
about permitted uses for this collection, you should email:
lice...@mozilla.org for copyright questions; and
trade...@mozilla.org for trademark or logo questions."

/hja

Axel Hecht

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Dec 23, 2008, 6:01:49 PM12/23/08
to
Harvey, I assume that's you? Mind using official accounts with full
personal information for policy postings?

On to the subject:

To me, the technical implementation hint on how to mark up different
licensing on MDC is valuable. If it's supposed to move elsewhere, I'd be
interested to know where. The same paragraph would be useful for other
CMS, too, I guess.

Do all our site have phrases on relicensing to later versions of CC?

I'd prefer to see MIT for samples to be stated as prominently as CC,
otherwise I'd think it'd be confusing. Not sure if this rules out the CC
logo in the footer.

Axel

Gervase Markham

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Jan 13, 2009, 5:29:37 PM1/13/09
to che...@gmail.com
che...@gmail.com wrote:
> Propose we adopt a consistent Creative Commons license framework for
> all the web properties that also accounts for the non-CC content.

The framework you've outlined looks great. I want to retain the "code
samples under MIT" feature - it makes it so much easier for people to
just take samples and use them with minimum fuss.

Gerv

Frank Hecker

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Jan 28, 2009, 3:51:14 PM1/28/09
to
che...@gmail.com wrote:
> Recently we were looking through our web properties and checking our
> licensing and noted a few inconsistencies we need to clean-up.

Harvey, thanks for looking at this. My apologies for the delay in
responding.

> Propose we adopt a consistent Creative Commons license framework for
> all the web properties that also accounts for the non-CC content.
> (.org is already under CC, but with different formulations.) It seems
> we have the following types of content on our websites to address: i)
> user generated content non-code; ii) user generated content (code);
> iii) trademarks; and iv) Mozilla created content. I believe the CC
> Attribution-Share Alike license is the proper license for us as it
> allows broad use, promotes relicensing on same terms, and includes
> attribution (plus its what we’re using today).

I generally agree with the choice of CC-BY-SA, but note one issue:

We've been discussing plans for potential Mozilla Foundation programs
related to education, in particular setting up a site
education.mozilla.org to host Mozilla-related courseware and other
materials that might be useful for academic institutions and others

One of the outstanding problems in the open educational resources (OER)
community right now is confusion over courseware licensing and the
ability of institutions to re-mix materials from different sources to
create new courses. See for example this report from the Creative
Commons folks working in this area:

http://learn.creativecommons.org/cclearn-reports/

One recommendation being made (as noted in the "Recommendations" seciton
of the above report) is to license open courseware materials under
CC-BY, not CC-BY-SA, so as to increase the ability of downstream
institutions to incorporate the material in other contexts.

I think therefore it's worth considering using CC-BY for any materials
created for education.mozilla.org. There's the issue of what we do about
materials from MDC and elsewhere that we might incorporate into Mozilla
courses, but we can deal with that later, either by just using CC-BY-SA
or by trying to get the stuff relicensed under CC-BY instead.

> Footer Draft Language:
> "Except where otherwise [noted], content on this site is licensed
> under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license v3.0 or
> any later version."

IIRC this represents an effective change from a lot of the existing
material, which is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.5 or later.

> o “Noted” links to the statement below.
> o Show appropriate CC logo with footer on every page.
> o This formulation is the same as what CC uses on their website.

These and others are all good changes, and in general are consistent
with the recommendations of the CCLearn report above regarding sites
providing better information on licenses used.

> While our intention is to make most of the content available under the
> CC license above, the following material and content are not licensed
> under the Creative Commons license:
> • Portions of the web site are © 1998–2008 by individual mozilla.org
> contributors.

I'm not sure what this means in context: That some material on the site
is under an unknown license?

One more item: It was recently noted that wiki.mozilla.org has a page
stating that material contributed to it is licensed under the GNU FDL.
That needs to be changed going forward, and something done if possible
with the licensing on existing material on wiki.mozilla.org, since it
may end up being reused on other sites. As it happens the GNU FDL now
has a provision allowing re-licensing under CC-BY-SA 3.0 or later,
consistent with your suggestion above.

Frank

--
Frank Hecker
hec...@mozillafoundation.org

Gervase Markham

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Feb 4, 2009, 4:12:20 AM2/4/09
to Christopher Blizzard, Frank Hecker
Christopher Blizzard wrote:
> There's been some discussion on and off about using CC-BY for MDC as
> well for a possible upcoming project.

What would be the advantage?

To my mind, some element of share-alike has always been part of the
Mozilla approach to the code and documentation it creates, albeit in an
limited MPL rather than full-on GPL style. What does changing do for us,
apart from allow more people to take without giving back?

Gerv

Frank Hecker

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Feb 4, 2009, 9:57:26 AM2/4/09
to
Gervase Markham wrote:
> Christopher Blizzard wrote:
>> There's been some discussion on and off about using CC-BY for MDC as
>> well for a possible upcoming project.
>
> What would be the advantage?

I can't speak for MDC, but in an education context I can tell you that
license incompatibility (e.g., between CC-BY-SA and CC-NC-* licenses)
and license proliferation is becoming a major problem for people who
want to re-mix open educational resources. That's why the ccLearn folks
at Creative Commons are now recommending standardizing on CC-BY for OER
materials, and that's why I'd like to see us follow suit with
education.mozilla.org. And since for EMO we will likely want to re-use
material from MDC and other Mozilla properties, it would be good from my
point of view if MDC started moving to CC-BY as well.

> To my mind, some element of share-alike has always been part of the
> Mozilla approach to the code and documentation it creates, albeit in an
> limited MPL rather than full-on GPL style. What does changing do for us,
> apart from allow more people to take without giving back?

At least in an educational context I don't see "proprietary capture" and
non-sharing to be a major problem. Some of the major OER sites use
CC-BY, and I haven't see any indication that it has caused problems for
them. There are plenty of ways to monetize OER content other than making
it proprietary, because what people are really paying for is the
official accreditation and credentials, not for the content per se.

Boris Zbarsky

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Feb 4, 2009, 10:13:39 AM2/4/09
to
Frank Hecker wrote:
> I can't speak for MDC, but in an education context I can tell you that
> license incompatibility (e.g., between CC-BY-SA and CC-NC-* licenses)
> and license proliferation is becoming a major problem for people who
> want to re-mix open educational resources. That's why the ccLearn folks
> at Creative Commons are now recommending standardizing on CC-BY for OER
> materials, and that's why I'd like to see us follow suit with
> education.mozilla.org. And since for EMO we will likely want to re-use
> material from MDC and other Mozilla properties, it would be good from my
> point of view if MDC started moving to CC-BY as well.

This is actually an interesting point that recently came up with regard
to the HTML specification licensing.

Apparently CC-BY is not GPL-compatible (as of version 2; there is no
evaluation yet of version 3).

Which means that if we do this, it'll be impossible to use a code
snippet from MDC in a GPL project, right?

Is that desirable?

In other words, is CC-BY actually _less_ free in some aspects than we
need it to be?

-Boris

Mike Beltzner

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Feb 4, 2009, 10:17:54 AM2/4/09
to hec...@mozillafoundation.org, gover...@lists.mozilla.org
If we assume that the information on MDC promotes open and shared standards,
I don't think we need to care about the fact that downstream consumers may
not license it SA.

Let's be viral, and let the content get out there. If someone wants to reuse
it, the BY provision means that they can find the true source and reuse it
from there, even if they first get exposed to it through a source that's
licensed more restrictively.

cheers,
mike

----- Original Message -----
From: governance-bounces+beltzner=mozil...@lists.mozilla.org
<governance-bounces+beltzner=mozil...@lists.mozilla.org>
To: gover...@lists.mozilla.org <gover...@lists.mozilla.org>
Sent: Wed Feb 04 06:57:26 2009
Subject: Re: Site Licensing - Creative Commons

Gervase Markham wrote:
> Christopher Blizzard wrote:
>> There's been some discussion on and off about using CC-BY for MDC as
>> well for a possible upcoming project.
>
> What would be the advantage?

I can't speak for MDC, but in an education context I can tell you that


license incompatibility (e.g., between CC-BY-SA and CC-NC-* licenses)
and license proliferation is becoming a major problem for people who
want to re-mix open educational resources. That's why the ccLearn folks
at Creative Commons are now recommending standardizing on CC-BY for OER
materials, and that's why I'd like to see us follow suit with
education.mozilla.org. And since for EMO we will likely want to re-use
material from MDC and other Mozilla properties, it would be good from my
point of view if MDC started moving to CC-BY as well.

> To my mind, some element of share-alike has always been part of the


> Mozilla approach to the code and documentation it creates, albeit in an
> limited MPL rather than full-on GPL style. What does changing do for us,
> apart from allow more people to take without giving back?

At least in an educational context I don't see "proprietary capture" and
non-sharing to be a major problem. Some of the major OER sites use
CC-BY, and I haven't see any indication that it has caused problems for
them. There are plenty of ways to monetize OER content other than making
it proprietary, because what people are really paying for is the
official accreditation and credentials, not for the content per se.

Frank

--
Frank Hecker
hec...@mozillafoundation.org
_______________________________________________
governance mailing list
gover...@lists.mozilla.org
https://lists.mozilla.org/listinfo/governance

Benjamin Smedberg

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Feb 4, 2009, 10:27:08 AM2/4/09
to
On 2/4/09 10:13 AM, Boris Zbarsky wrote:

> Apparently CC-BY is not GPL-compatible (as of version 2; there is no
> evaluation yet of version 3).
>
> Which means that if we do this, it'll be impossible to use a code
> snippet from MDC in a GPL project, right?
>
> Is that desirable?
>
> In other words, is CC-BY actually _less_ free in some aspects than we
> need it to be?

Or the GPL is less free than we need it to be.

--BDS

Mike Shaver

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Feb 4, 2009, 10:31:21 AM2/4/09
to gover...@lists.mozilla.org
On Wed, Feb 4, 2009 at 10:13 AM, Boris Zbarsky <bzba...@mit.edu> wrote:
> Apparently CC-BY is not GPL-compatible (as of version 2; there is no
> evaluation yet of version 3).
>
> Which means that if we do this, it'll be impossible to use a code snippet
> from MDC in a GPL project, right?

Code snippets on MDC are currently MIT-licensed, I believe, and I
would hope that they stay that way for the reason you mention.

Mike

Frank Hecker

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Feb 4, 2009, 10:36:32 AM2/4/09
to

Yes, what shaver said. The use of CC licenses on MDC and elsewhere is
for non-code content only (e.g., API references, tutorials, etc.). All
code examples on MDC are MIT-licensed; if any are not it was an
oversight. In future any code samples on education.mozilla.org should be
MIT-licensed as well.

Boris Zbarsky

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Feb 4, 2009, 10:44:39 AM2/4/09
to
Frank Hecker wrote:
> Yes, what shaver said. The use of CC licenses on MDC and elsewhere is
> for non-code content only (e.g., API references, tutorials, etc.). All
> code examples on MDC are MIT-licensed

Sounds great. Thanks!

-Boris

Gervase Markham

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Feb 5, 2009, 1:40:07 PM2/5/09
to
Frank Hecker wrote:
> I can't speak for MDC, but in an education context I can tell you that
> license incompatibility (e.g., between CC-BY-SA and CC-NC-* licenses)
> and license proliferation is becoming a major problem for people who
> want to re-mix open educational resources.

Well, the problem here seems to be people putting stuff under NC.

Us moving from CC-BY-SA to CC-BY basically means that other people can
incorporate it into works which are CC-NC-*. I'm not sure that's
actually something we want to facilitate, is it? A basic free software
principle, and a Manifesto principle, is that commercial activity is OK
and to be encouraged.

If there is no NC involved, then CC-BY and CC-BY-SA are compatible
without problems.

> At least in an educational context I don't see "proprietary capture" and
> non-sharing to be a major problem. Some of the major OER sites use
> CC-BY, and I haven't see any indication that it has caused problems for
> them. There are plenty of ways to monetize OER content other than making
> it proprietary, because what people are really paying for is the
> official accreditation and credentials, not for the content per se.

I'd call derivative works being NC a form of capture, because it means
that we can't reincorporate the derivatives.

Gerv

Gervase Markham

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Feb 5, 2009, 1:41:07 PM2/5/09
to Mike Shaver
Mike Shaver wrote:
> Code snippets on MDC are currently MIT-licensed, I believe, and I
> would hope that they stay that way for the reason you mention.

And, in fact, the MDC licensing terms were designed this way for
precisely this reason. We picked MIT even over BSD because it has almost
zero attribution requirement.

Gerv

Gervase Markham

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Feb 5, 2009, 1:42:08 PM2/5/09
to
Mike Beltzner wrote:
> If we assume that the information on MDC promotes open and shared standards,
> I don't think we need to care about the fact that downstream consumers may
> not license it SA.
>
> Let's be viral, and let the content get out there. If someone wants to reuse
> it, the BY provision means that they can find the true source and reuse it
> from there, even if they first get exposed to it through a source that's
> licensed more restrictively.

But it means we can't pick up any fixes that source makes. (Say, for
example, it's licensed as CC-BY-NC).

Gerv

Christopher Blizzard

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Feb 9, 2009, 3:19:55 PM2/9/09
to Boris Zbarsky, gover...@lists.mozilla.org
On Wed, Feb 4, 2009 at 4:13 PM, Boris Zbarsky <bzba...@mit.edu> wrote:
> Which means that if we do this, it'll be impossible to use a code snippet
> from MDC in a GPL project, right?
>
> Is that desirable?
>
> In other words, is CC-BY actually _less_ free in some aspects than we need
> it to be?
>

All code samples are supposed to be MIT-licensed with the surrounding
content being CC-*.

--Chris

Mike Beltzner

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Feb 9, 2009, 8:58:38 PM2/9/09
to Gervase Markham, gover...@lists.mozilla.org

That's true. Isn't that also true of the MPL, though? It feels like
we've been here before.

cheers,
mike

Gervase Markham

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Feb 13, 2009, 1:34:25 PM2/13/09
to
On 10/02/09 01:58, Mike Beltzner wrote:
> That's true. Isn't that also true of the MPL, though? It feels like
> we've been here before.

To a limited extent, yes. As you know, the MPL sits somewhere between
the BSD licence and the LGPL in the extent of its copyleft. However, CC
doesn't have a range - it's no ShareAlike or full ShareAlike.

My view is that mutual sharing is a community value in the Mozilla
community - which is why when we relicensed to make our code
GPL-compatible, we went "up" (as in, adding licenses with more copyleft)
to add LGPL/GPL options rather than "down" (removing all copyleft) to
change to e.g. BSD. (Either direction would have achieved the goal of
GPL-compatibility.)

But of course it's difficult to get hard data on the extent of a
community value.

Gerv

Mike Shaver

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Feb 13, 2009, 1:50:04 PM2/13/09
to Gervase Markham, gover...@lists.mozilla.org
On Fri, Feb 13, 2009 at 1:34 PM, Gervase Markham <ge...@mozilla.org> wrote:
> My view is that mutual sharing is a community value in the Mozilla community
> - which is why when we relicensed to make our code GPL-compatible, we went
> "up" (as in, adding licenses with more copyleft) to add LGPL/GPL options
> rather than "down" (removing all copyleft) to change to e.g. BSD. (Either
> direction would have achieved the goal of GPL-compatibility.)

We added those licenses specifically to increase the consumption of
the code, though, not because we believed that people needed a more
copylefty choice. I personally believe that sharing is motivated by
alignment and good project health, much more than by legal tools. The
strongest give-back provisions we can have are a trunk that people
want to be integrated with and a community they want to be a part of,
IMO.

I wouldn't propose a relicensing to BSD today, but only because of the
logistical pain and the expectation we've created for contributors who
may value copyleft quite specifically. I think that our mission is
better served the easier it is for people to integrate high-quality
web technology into their systems.

Mike

John J. Barton

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Feb 14, 2009, 2:26:39 PM2/14/09
to

I'll offer some anecdotal data. The company I work for (IBM) sells
products containing open source and contributes heavily to several open
source efforts. Very few contributions involve copyleft source. Copyleft
licenses create negative economic value for code: adding copyleft code
to a project impacts all of the source, not just the addition. Copyleft
deter corporate contributions to open source communities. Of course
you can decide that we don't count as part of the Mozilla community.

On the other hand, no one ever talks about "BSD-compatibility". I bet
more programmers have read the BSD license than any other legal
document. We come away thinking we understand it. I think that in itself
is a community value.

jjb

Mike Shaver

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Feb 14, 2009, 2:30:59 PM2/14/09
to John J. Barton, gover...@lists.mozilla.org
On Sat, Feb 14, 2009 at 2:26 PM, John J. Barton
<johnj...@johnjbarton.com> wrote:
> Very few contributions involve copyleft source. Copyleft licenses
> create negative economic value for code: adding copyleft code to a project
> impacts all of the source, not just the addition

That's not the case with the MPL; the MPL's copyleft extends only to
"range" of a file, so other files can be under whatever license you
choose (including completely-proprietary).

That said, I agree that BSD is easier to analyze, though I think
you'll find that IBM prefers other licenses like Apache that have some
patent language in them.

Mike

hand...@mozilla.com

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Feb 18, 2009, 7:23:19 PM2/18/09
to
On Feb 14, 11:30 am, Mike Shaver <mike.sha...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sat, Feb 14, 2009 at 2:26 PM, John J. Barton
>


Relative to the original CC footer proposal for MDC, it seems like
there are a few key issues, but in general there's consensus to move
forward as proposed. I'll recap to make sure we're on the same page
and describe what I think is the final state:

1. There was a question regarding the scope of the proposal, i.e. what
would CC apply to. The answer: "The use of CC licenses on MDC and


elsewhere is for non-code content only (e.g., API references,
tutorials, etc.).

2. There was a question regarding what's the proper license for the
code snippets. Today we use MIT and the CC proposal would not change
the status quo. Thus, all code examples on MDC are MIT-licensed. If
there's continued material interest in this topic, we should bifurcate
the code snippet issue from the CC proposal and move forward w/getting
MDC on a CC framework.

3. There was an issue raised regarding Open Education Resources which
are preferably licensed under CC-BY. This can be addressed in two
ways:
i) the mozilla wiki site that hosts OER content can adopt a CC-BY
license for educational content. This would mean a slightly different
footer which seems fine.
ii) even if we used the proposed CC framework on the OER sites, it
provides for other content that is not CC-BY-SA provided the author
affirmatively indicates such an intention.
Thus, OER content can be contributed under the CC-BY framework and
this issue has a fix.

4. There was a question regarding the meaning of one of the following
listed exceptions to the default CC license: "Portions of the web site
are © 1998–2008 by individual mozilla.org contributors." This language
is intended to address content that was submitted without a license,
which is then interpreted to mean that the only license provided is
that granted under statutory copyright provisions and the author
reserves all other rights.

5. GNU FDL. The language on mozilla wiki at https://wiki.mozilla.org/MozillaWiki:About
needs to be changed so it conforms with the footer. As per Frank "It


was recently noted that wiki.mozilla.org has a page stating that
material contributed to it is licensed under the GNU FDL. That needs
to be changed going forward, and something done if possible with the
licensing on existing material on wiki.mozilla.org, since it may end
up being reused on other sites. As it happens the GNU FDL now has a

provision allowing re-licensing under CC-BY-SA 3.0 or later. Thus, I
would propose that we change the reference from GNU FDL to "CC-BY-SA
3.0" and add some copy indicating that the GNU FDL allows relicensing
under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

If this captures the major issues, I'd like to move forward on the
proposal and close this out. If not, or if further clarifications are
required, please advise.

/hja

John J. Barton

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Feb 23, 2009, 1:13:43 AM2/23/09
to
Mike Shaver wrote:
> On Sat, Feb 14, 2009 at 2:26 PM, John J. Barton
> <johnj...@johnjbarton.com> wrote:
>> Very few contributions involve copyleft source. Copyleft licenses
>> create negative economic value for code: adding copyleft code to a project
>> impacts all of the source, not just the addition
>
> That's not the case with the MPL; the MPL's copyleft extends only to
> "range" of a file, so other files can be under whatever license you
> choose (including completely-proprietary).

I recently learned a bit more about the MPL issue. The 'range' argument
does help make MPL usable when it is bundled and shipped with code
having other licenses. But the 'range' does not help for developers
contributing to open source. Lawyers consider a project that a developer
works on to be covered by the most restrictive license involved. So in
effect, the copyleft spills out of the programmers head and onto any
code they work on in the same project. That makes integration with MPL
code very difficult at the source level.

I think the argument is a bit dated, from the days of clean-room code.
Nevetheless the only solution is a test case in court or a heck of a
long time.

>
> That said, I agree that BSD is easier to analyze, though I think
> you'll find that IBM prefers other licenses like Apache that have some
> patent language in them.

I think you may get that impression if you look at projects IBM
initiates rather than ones it joins. The paramount issue at IBM is not
patents, but demonstrated adherence to law (they don't want to be sued)
and community support (they want a good reputation). The Apache-like
licenses make the demonstration slightly more convincing, but knowing
that the contributors are known and the contributions vetted is more
important.

jjb

Gervase Markham

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Feb 23, 2009, 4:38:49 PM2/23/09
to
On 14/02/09 19:26, John J. Barton wrote:
> I'll offer some anecdotal data. The company I work for (IBM) sells
> products containing open source and contributes heavily to several open
> source efforts. Very few contributions involve copyleft source. Copyleft
> licenses create negative economic value for code:
...

> Copyleft deter corporate contributions to open source communities.

I think there are plenty of counter-examples to show that those last two
statements cannot be true as absolutes. They may be the view of IBM, of
course. However, they are or were the second-biggest single corporate
contributor to the Linux kernel, which is under the GPL:
http://lwn.net/Articles/222773/

Gerv

Frank Hecker

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Feb 23, 2009, 11:41:43 PM2/23/09
to

[I wasn't going to step back into this debate, but I think this is worth
commenting briefly on.] You're correct that many corporations contribute
to GPL-licensed software. On the other hand, the Linux kernel licensing
allows binary-only modules, which suggests that Linus Torvalds at least
thought that pervasive use of copyleft might deter some developers.

One open question regarding copyleft is the extent to which it deters
some contributions that might otherwise have been made. The flip side of
that question is the extent to which copyleft causes some contributions
to be made that otherwise would not have been made, i.e., because the
people making them were inclined to defect from cooperation if not
forced into it by the (copyleft) license.

I'm not aware of any natural or artificial experiments that might
provide definitive answers to these questions. I don't think the example
of the Linux kernels vs. the *BSD kernels is a good example, because
there were confounding factors, most notably the long-lasting legal
uncertainty over rights to parts of the *BSD code. In the case of open
educational resources, at present the biggest concern seems to be
reducing uncertainty and confusion over OER licensing, by promoting use
of a simple licensing scheme (i.e., CC-BY) that doesn't introduce the
complicating factor of copyleft. Whether eschewing the use of copyleft
is a good idea in general or not, in this case I think it's the best
approach.

John J. Barton

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Feb 24, 2009, 11:47:13 AM2/24/09
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I'll stand by 'deter' but grant you that it's not 'prevent'. I'll make
an undefendable assertion based on my experience that IBM would have
contributed >100x if the license issue was not in the way. (Perhaps you
can't generalize this too much since IBM has operating systems Dna left
over from the Old Days).

However I will also agree with Frank's adjacent post: the dynamics of
open source contribution are complex. It seems clear to me that at least
the early days of linux or emacs were driven in part by zealous
contributions tied to copyleft.

jjb

Gervase Markham

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Feb 25, 2009, 1:40:39 PM2/25/09
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On 24/02/09 04:41, Frank Hecker wrote:
> [I wasn't going to step back into this debate, but I think this is worth
> commenting briefly on.] You're correct that many corporations contribute
> to GPL-licensed software. On the other hand, the Linux kernel licensing
> allows binary-only modules, which suggests that Linus Torvalds at least
> thought that pervasive use of copyleft might deter some developers.

Well, whether Linus allowing it means it's actually allowed (given that
he's not the sole copyright owner) is an open question. It might be said
that it's a community norm that they are allowed, but even that is
debateable - there are some fairly major contributors on the other side.

> One open question regarding copyleft is the extent to which it deters
> some contributions that might otherwise have been made. The flip side of
> that question is the extent to which copyleft causes some contributions
> to be made that otherwise would not have been made, i.e., because the
> people making them were inclined to defect from cooperation if not
> forced into it by the (copyleft) license.

That is true. (Of course, what account you take of this depends if
maximising contribution is your primary goal.)

Gerv

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