Reuse, not rework

License Awareness

Highly Reusable Software

By activity
Professions, Sciences, Humanities, Business, ...

User Interface
Text-based, GUI, Audio, Video, Keyboards, Mouse, Images,...

Text Strings
Conversions, tests, processing, manipulation,...

Integer, Floating point, Matrix, Statistics, Boolean, ...

Algorithms, Memory, Process control, Debugging, ...

Stored Data
Data storage, Integrity, Encryption, Compression, ...

Networks, protocols, Interprocess, Remote, Client Server, ...

Hard World
Timing, Calendar and Clock, Audio, Video, Printer, Controls...

File System
Management, Filtering, File & Directory access, Viewers, ...

Comparing to established Standards of Software Licensing

[For an overview how licensing and freedom fits into software copyright law, Read Background of "Free" software licensing on this page.]

Comparing established Standards of Software Licensing

There are many reasons that a software copyright holder would want to provide software with liberal copying and use terms. There was a large quantity of such software long before the Free Software Foundation or The Open Source Initiative existed to attempt to define what permissions or freedoms are important and necessary for certain goals.

The incompatibilities column on the multi-purpose form notes the unacceptable licensing terms according to some established standards of software licensing. For each symbolic characteristic, an 'I' appears in the incompatibilities column when it conflicts with a provision of the corresponding standard.

As can be seen by inspecting the incompatibilities column, differences in philosophy and goals give rise to differences in which symbols are incompatible.

Determining specific conflicts

To determine the specific numbered point in each standard (or definition) which is in conflict,
  1. Load the form
  2. Select the checkbox for the symbol(s) of interest
  3. SUBMIT.

This will create a detailed report for that symbol,with notes of the section or numbered point in conflict. This reports for the Free Software Foundation's definition of Free Software, The Open Source Initiative's definition, the GNU General Public License, and closed source software. (LIDESC ships with description files for these and other items.)

It can be helpful to create a detailed report for a license before submitting to a group for approval. This will indicate some license clauses which may need changes or additional scrutiny.

Source of Interpretations

There are a number of sources of these interpretations.

Background of "Free" software licensing

Many rights, including copying and creating derivative works, are reserved to the copyright holder by law. The law provides that the copyright holder can offer terms which give conditional permission for the copying, modification, and redistribution of works. For software this is most often called "the license agreement." Generally, if you do not agree to the license, the law prohibits you from distributing copies or derivative works, and other activities.

Even though the law gives the copyright holder tight control, works with liberal copying and use terms have existed for a long time. (In fact, the U.S. Constitution provides the copyright holder has control for a "limited time." After that limited time, the copyright holder does not have control and everyone may use the work with no more or less rights than the copyright holder has.)

It is important to note that software without a license does not provide freedom. Some of these freedoms must be ensured by the license explicitly. (Because by default (in the absence of an agreement), the law reserves those actions to the copyright holder alone.)

Next: Selecting a software license
Up to: The list of standard LIDESC symbols and their meanings

Librock LIDESC. Software License Analyzer and Compatibility Reporter
Copyright 2001-2002, Forrest J. Cavalier III, Mib Software
You may reproduce verbatim copies of this page, but changing it is not allowed.
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