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Open Source Programming

Github Finally Agrees Public Repos Should Have Explicit Licenses 120

WebMink writes "After strong criticism last year, Github has finally accepted the view that public repositories with no open source license are a bad thing. Self-described as the 'world's largest open source community,' a significant number of GitHub projects come with no rights whatsoever for you to use their code in an open source project. But from now on, creators of new repositories will have to pick from a small selection of OSI-approved licenses or explicitly opt for 'no license'. In Github's words, 'please note that opting out of open source licenses doesn't mean you're opting out of copyright law.'" A quick scan of their new choose a license site reveals at least a few flaws: they present simplicity, caring about patents, and sharing improvements with others as mutually exclusive points when they clearly are not (e.g. the Apache license and the GPLv3 both help with patent concerns, but only Apache is mentioned; and the MIT/X license is listed as the simple license when BSD-style is more prevalent). They also imply it is entirely optional to actually note your copyright in your files, when it is really bad practice not to unless you really want to make it impossible for people to understand the copyright history when e.g. merging your code into another project. Their list of licenses does provide a nice overview of the features of each, but regrettably encourages the use of the GPLv2 (without the "or later version" clause), listing the GPLv3 and all versions of the LGPL in league with seldom used licenses like the Perl Artistic license.
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Github Finally Agrees Public Repos Should Have Explicit Licenses

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @08:21AM (#44295151)

    We've seen what happens with screwball licenses: anyone remember why qmail, djbdns, and daemontools never made it into major software distributions, despite being noticeably better than their alternatives? Because Dan J. Bernstein saddled them with a license where you couldn't publish your modified code or binaries from it, you had to publish *his* source and your diffs against it and let people build their own binaries locally. He finally got a clue and released it all as public domain, but it was too late. Inferior products (such as Postfix, BIND, and systemd) had evolved to the point where it wasn't worth investing any effort in Dan's technically and conceptually superior tools. I was in a stack of meetings where I had to explain that we couldn't get vendor support from those tools on our operating systems because Dan's license prohibited the vendors from shipping the tools.

    Hooray for reducing license wackiness!!!!!

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