madbernard: a long angled pier (Default)
[personal profile] madbernard
It takes a lot of time to figure out what's up with licensing code that you build, but a couple weeks ago I had the time to look it over, and I made this set of slides for a 5-minute talk on the subject.

The tl;dr is that all licenses descend from your ability to copyright stuff that you make. Copyright means that you can set the terms by which distribution happens there after, and so you can set Occupy-esque terms like "if you build from this, you have to show your source code and let other people freely build from your thing, too"...

Those terms above are the basic idea of free ("libre") software/"copyleft"/the GPL. Copyleft is a play on words from copyright, indicating that it means to be the opposite of the copyright, using its powers of control to ensure the thing will forever be freely available. The GPL has been tested in courts in the US and EU, and found to be solid.

My main concern with copyleft was, how much can you use it while keeping your thing separate? It seems like the answer is, if you're using, say, a MySQL database, no worries; but if you change the MySQL source code, that change must be liberated. I'm still not 100% sure of where the lines are, but then again, free software has proven itself as a working way of getting software distributed.

Open source licensed code, on the other hand, can be used by software businesses because an open source license doesn't require that you share source code. That, and the clarity and brevity of the writing, is why the MIT license has overtaken the GPL as most widely-used, I suspect.

There are more links in the slides to other discussions, and if anyone has opinions I'd love to hear them in the comments!
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