Licensing

Disclaimer

I am not an attorney. None of this constitutes competent legal advice. None of it.

"Open" IP

  • Movement for collective creation

  • Typically focused around copyright, source code

  • Idea: License away individual rights

  • Two flavors:

    • Vanilla ala Creative Commons, Open Source
    • "Viral" ala GPL
  • Licenses at http://opensource.org

Adding Your Marks

  • My README.md:

    ## License
    
    This work is released under the "random license".
    Please see the file `LICENSE` in this distribution for
    license terms.
    
  • My LICENSE file

    Copyright © 2020 Bart Massey
    
    This work is released under the "random license".
    
    Random License text yadda yadda
    
  • Every file in my program (ideally):

    /* This work is released under the "random license".
       Please see the file LICENSE in this distribution for
       license terms. */
    

Protecting your IP

  • Send "cease and desist" (C&D) letter

  • Sue! But then you lose

    • If defendant is found to be non-infringing, you will have wasted time and money

    • If defendant is found to be infringing, you will still have wasted time and money

    • Note that the attorneys on both sides win either way

Collective Copyright

  • What happens when you accept contributions from others: all contributing parties collectively hold copyright on the work

  • This is a mess from an IP law point of view; also, relicensing tends to be impossible

  • Common alternative is "copyright assignment": contributors must assign their copyright to the organization

  • This is a pain in the neck and discourages contributions, especially when the organization is a commercial entity

License Compatibility

  • What happens when parts of the software are under "incompatible" licenses?

    • If the licenses disagree on their terms, the whole licensing scheme may be invalid — in fact, the work may thereby infringe one or more of the licenses

    • (Note that in the absence of a valid license, no one can legally use the work.)

  • What happens when parts of the software are under "compatible" licenses?

    • Effectively the work contains a new synthetic license

    • The most obvious case: if part of a work is GPL, but other parts are under some compatible more permissive license, the work as a whole becomes GPL

Last modified: Monday, 6 July 2020, 12:15 AM