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Author Topic: Licensing Free Software  (Read 3390 times)

wraith808

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Licensing Free Software
« on: September 19, 2012, 08:53:43 PM »
I've never thought about this before- I just release software and forget about it.  However, if I was going to release free software, and did want to license it to make sure that no one else made a profit off of it, but it was free (not open source), are there licenses for that?  If so, can anyone suggest a good one?  I'm not worried about enforceability, because truthfully, I don't have the resources to pursue someone for a violation for free software.  But doing nothing seems wrong also.

Any thoughts?

wraith808

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Re: Licensing Free Software
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2012, 09:10:48 PM »
Ok.. a quick stab at a license (like I said, I don't really care about enforceability):

This software is licensed under the Don't Blame Me License (DBML)

This software is released as-is for the general good. It may never be distributed for direct payment, though inclusion in software downloads is permissible with permission obtained from (email address) as long as everything included in the distribution where it was obtained is likewise included in your distribution, and the linking page includes a link to (link to software page).  I claim no responsibility for damages that may occur to any person, place, thing, idea or noun through the direct or indirect use, misuse or disuse of this product. Caveat lector.

40hz

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Re: Licensing Free Software
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2012, 09:22:39 PM »
Any standard commercial type license would fit the bill. All you'd then have to do is continue to not charge for it and include a license term which says it "can be freely copied and distributed" - but not sold.You'd also probably want to put a splash screen in the installer that says "If you paid money for a copy of this program ask for it back!" followed by a brief explanation of how you released it for free distribution.

As far as enforcing it...that's another matter. Unless you have a legal firm on retainer, you probably wouldn't be able to do that. Possibly you could join some association (if there is one) that provided a license enforcement member benefit. The FSF is out because your program is closed source - and you'd have to assign the license over to them before they could enforce it anyway. Does the ASP or some other software organization do something like that?


wraith808

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Re: Licensing Free Software
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2012, 09:35:28 PM »
I'm not sure... but like I said, I don't really care about enforcement.  It was more along the lines of why do we put locks on doors... not to keep determined criminals out (because that doesn't work), but to make non-determined criminals think twice.

Thanks for the advice!

Renegade

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Re: Licensing Free Software
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2012, 10:02:36 PM »
There is the case where your software is distributed on CD in a magazine or some similar method where the publisher doesn't directly profit from the software, but does charge for the media, etc. You might want to check that out. For examples of those kinds of clauses, check out the licenses in my software (in the installer) or ALTools (I did those licenses). They're pretty much what you're looking for I think.
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TaoPhoenix

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Re: Licensing Free Software
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2012, 10:16:13 PM »
Why doesn't Creative Commons work? One of the Attribution-NonCommercial ones?

wraith808

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Re: Licensing Free Software
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2012, 10:44:57 PM »
Does CC work for software?  I thought it was only for artistic works (though one could argue that software was artistic, I suppose)

Renegade

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Re: Licensing Free Software
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2012, 11:01:24 PM »
CC lacks some typical clauses that you'd find in normal software agreements, like a disclaimer against responsibility for usage.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

jgpaiva

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Re: Licensing Free Software
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2012, 09:03:27 AM »
According to CC's faq (here), it is not recommended that you use their licenses for software. That's the license I use for GridMove, though. Mostly because I'm lazy :P

wraith808

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Re: Licensing Free Software
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2012, 10:56:25 AM »
^ I thought I saw that somewhere when I got into the whole licensing bit.  I use CC for my writing, but that's what got me started looking at licensing my software.  But looking into it, other than Renegade's and 40s suggestions, there doesn't seem to be much help for people who don't want to release the source. 

And the reasons for not releasing the source are valid:
1. A lot of the source is derived from code for other people that I maintain the rights to use- but not distribute. 
2. Other source is just not compatible with OSS, i.e. commercial components.
3. I've had experiences with OSS that I don't want to repeat- it's just easier to not deal with it, especially for something that I'm not looking to derive compensation from.

But people are so focused on OSS that they forget about people who just want to release free stuff.  IMO, the Free Software Definition shouldn't be synonymous with OSS.  But it seems to be.  Just because you can't tinker with use the source, doesn't make the software not free.

But that's a different rant...

Renegade

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Re: Licensing Free Software
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2012, 11:18:50 AM »
^ I thought I saw that somewhere when I got into the whole licensing bit.  I use CC for my writing, but that's what got me started looking at licensing my software.  But looking into it, other than Renegade's and 40s suggestions, there doesn't seem to be much help for people who don't want to release the source. 

And the reasons for not releasing the source are valid:
1. A lot of the source is derived from code for other people that I maintain the rights to use- but not distribute. 
2. Other source is just not compatible with OSS, i.e. commercial components.
3. I've had experiences with OSS that I don't want to repeat- it's just easier to not deal with it, especially for something that I'm not looking to derive compensation from.

But people are so focused on OSS that they forget about people who just want to release free stuff.  IMO, the Free Software Definition shouldn't be synonymous with OSS.  But it seems to be.  Just because you can't tinker with use the source, doesn't make the software not free.

But that's a different rant...

You make some very good points there.

Add to it that releasing source is still more work. You have to pull out somethings, stick in others, etc. e.g. Licenses for other software used in it, etc.

Then you need to test that your released source actually compiles. How many times have you downloaded source and it wouldn't compile without a day and a half of work?

I put up one at Github here, but in general, it's just easier to release freeware.
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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Licensing Free Software
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2012, 12:26:27 PM »
Does CC work for software?  I thought it was only for artistic works (though one could argue that software was artistic, I suppose)

In the Digital World, Everything Converges.

Part of the DeCSS hubbub was "at what point does art start becoming software"? There was some string of numbers, which then correlated to the security codes. So when can you not make art depicting numbers? When someone magically decides that X random number is now Forbidden To Copy?

wraith808

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Re: Licensing Free Software
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2012, 12:35:19 PM »
I think anything can be abstracted to the point of absurdism, i.e. art as math which becomes code which becomes...

I think you have to deal with practicalities rather than abstractions.