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22 February 32010 / Robin Wellner

The Implicit License: Take Two

As the result of my previous post, The Implicit License, I have received a lot of feedback.

I rewrote it, to make try and change the impact.

I’m still not completely satisfied with the whole “MIT to closed source” route, if anyone knows how to fix this, I’d love to hear from you. If it can’t be fixed, it is basically an overly verbose “WTFPL by default”.

I do not want that, because I want to encourage Open Source use of my creative productions — which is the same reason WTFPL, PD and CC-0 are not included in my list of allowed licenses.

This work has no explicit license associated with it.

However, I promise not to sue you for reusing this work with one of the following Open Source licenses: GPL2+, LGPL2+, AGLP2+, MIT, 3-clause BSD, zlib, Apache 2, Python Software Foundation License, LPCL, CC-BY, CC-BY-SA. Attribution is appreciated, but not required.

If you want to use it in a proprietary setting or with any other license that is arguably open source, full copyright conditions apply, and you will need to contact me to ask permission. In that case, I reserve all rights.

I strongly urge you not to use a liberal license to escape clause 2. Doing so might considerably damage your image.

If and when I decide to re-license this work, the implicit license will not apply anymore. In the event you already have a copy of this work from before the re-licensing, you may distribute, derive and modify that version from that work. If I re-license this work to full copyright, you will need to ask me permission (which you will most likely get), but only once for all the uses of each work.

This post has the same premise as the last: this does not not apply yet (and will never for works created before the moment I say it applies), and I like lots of feedback.

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6 Comments

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  1. qubodup / Feb 22 2010 13:11

    Well, the “problem” is that if a project would want to use your code, but at the same time be 100% MIT-licensed, it will not be able to take your code.

    “reusing this work with … license” seems not clear to me either. Does reuse include relicense?

    You can not be MIT-compatible, but at the same time prohibit proprietary use, I am afraid. You will have to limit yourself to copyleft licenses and require asking for permission for other licenses.

    • qubodup / Feb 22 2010 13:14

      PS: I think the last paragraph might be superflous. A license only is valid to the work it is attached to, when you release a new work, and it has a new license attached to it, then it is clear that the old license is not valid for the new work (or new version).

    • Robin Wellner / Feb 22 2010 13:36

      >Does reuse include relicense?
      Hm.. yes, I guess I meant re-license there.

      >You can not be …
      Well, I don’t want to prohibit proprietary use as much as discourage it: if it is easier to use my work in an open source context, it might influence something else to be open rather than closed.

      And good to know the last paragraph might be superfluous. 😉

  2. Luiji Maryo / Jun 13 2010 0:51

    Yeah, the major issue with this license is that you say that people cannot use the work for proprietary use (i.e. selling it), however the MIT/X11, BSD, GPL, and a couple other listed licenses do permit this. This license is not really usable, since it un-permits what most of the accepted licenses permit.

    What you should do is write your own license which permits the ability to:
    – Run for any purpose.
    – Modify.
    – Distribute both initial and modified version.
    – Add an extra clause to this license for attribution.
    With the conditions that:
    – It is distributed free-of-charge (I don’t personally like this clause, as distribution fees seem perfectly fine to me, but it’s your software, so…).
    – The full source code is available.
    – The source code retains this license.
    – The binary retains this license within the documentation.

    If you want, I can write this license into a formal version and then submit it to the OSI and FSF to get approval and stuff. I might license my own work under this new license, too.

    • Robin Wellner / Jun 13 2010 2:05

      Proprietary != commercial. Proprietary is closed-source, but you can sell open source software perfectly fine, just like anything under the Implicit License.

      Also consider that Implicit License is somewhat of a misnomer: it is not really a license, just a general statement that says “you can share and fork anything on this site/blog/whatever that’s unlicensed, as long as you play nice and do it with one of these open-source licenses.” It is basically a way to let people use things I make without making them wait to long because I can’t decide on a license (it’s really hard for me).

      If you want, I can write this license into a formal version and then submit it to the OSI and FSF to get approval and stuff.

      Thanks for the offer, but please don’t. You see, this should not be a real license, because it is meant to be a temporary measure, a gateway to other licenses. Well, mainly the second part. If you know ways to improve the IL, I’d love to hear from you. (Also, if you haven’t yet, you might want to check out the latest version of the license.)

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