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I was thinking a lot about software licensing lately, because I would like to do some coding. I'm not an expert in all those licenses, so I came up with my own idea, and before I will put in on paper, I would like to make sure that I didn't reinvent a wheel, so maybe I would be able to use something that exists.

Main idea behind my license is to guarantee freedom of use the software, but not "freedom to" (positive) (e.g. freedom to having source code), but "freedom from" (negative) (strictly from legal actions against you). It would be "viral" copyleft license.

You would be able to without fear do everything you want with the software (and binaries e.g. reverse engineering), as long as You will include information about author and/or authors, and all derivative works will be distributed with the same license. I'm not interested in anything that would restrict a freedom of company to do something like "tivoization". I'm just trying to accomplish something that would block any legal actions of user and developer, targeted against each other, with the exception of basic attribution.

Does exist something like that?

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I'm not sure why people are voting to close. The identification of appropriate licenses is on-topic here on Programmers... –  Thomas Owens Oct 15 '12 at 17:29
    
So you write a library and license it with some new LZSD that is as-is, no warranties and no moral rights. This is then statically linked by an application someone else wrote. What restrictions do you want that application to have? any restrictions on selling it? DRM? Re-license with more restrictions? All that said - talk to a lawyer to make a license that has the requirements you want, otherwise you may still find yourself exposed to lawsuits or your software used in other ways that you intended. –  MichaelT Oct 15 '12 at 21:40
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@ThomasOwens: I think this is being close-voted because it's not really about clarifying or interpreting licenses; it's more of a research request. –  Robert Harvey Oct 16 '12 at 0:18
    
Wouldn't such a license inherently prohibit any attempt to actually enforce it? If I guarantee that I will never sue my users and everyone can be my user, then I'm in a pretty bad position when someone actually violates one of my rights. –  Joachim Sauer Oct 16 '12 at 10:47
    
@JoachimSauer Yeah, but it would work for both sides, if someone would use my code in his project, I would be able to use his project and he would have hands tied :) . So license would have legal effects only against someone who would "start a legal war" as first. GPL in large part works that way. –  Luken Oct 16 '12 at 11:27

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This all uppercase part of the BSD license is pretty much what you are saying. Full text here:

http://opensource.org/licenses/bsd-license.php

THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND CONTRIBUTORS "AS IS" AND ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER OR CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.

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But this is not copyleft. If I didn't clarify this enough - I would like to have copyleft license, so it would be as "viral" as GPL. So if it would be made a part of a bigger project, the whole project would need to be under this license - so developer wouldn't be allowed to start legal actions (as possible) against user regarding the whole project. Basically, something like GPL but without obligations related to source code. –  Luken Oct 15 '12 at 16:57
    
@ŁukaszZaroda: I don't understand what you are saying. If you BSD license your code, and someone uses it for a larger project, you are not the author of the larger project... where is your theory of liability coming from? What this sounds like is you just need to do some more research and get a list of good questions together for a good business attorney, and have a meeting. As bizarre as the legal system is sometimes, there are still a lot of good things about it that do make sense. –  gahooa Oct 15 '12 at 18:07
    
@ŁukaszZaroda: Or, if you GPL your code, then that carries the viral part. Here is a piece of advice: just pick a decent licence and write some code. If the code becomes popular, win, and you are protected under the GPL/BSD/Apache, etc... If your code does not become popular, then you didn't lose either (a lot of time and effort on unnecessary legal issues). –  gahooa Oct 15 '12 at 18:09
    
Well, I just meant that BSD license does not fulfil my presumptions that I stated before. "If you BSD license your code, and someone uses it for a larger project, you are not the author of the larger project..." GPL doesn't work that way for example :) . If you want to use GPL code, you need to adjust licensing terms of your own code. "just pick a decent licence and write some code." - I know that the license details are often not so important, but I'm just asking :) . –  Luken Oct 15 '12 at 18:16

I don't think it's legally possible for a license to prevent any legal action against you. However, almost any free/open source license will include a warranty disclaimer that will prevent you from being held responsible for what is done with your software, which is about the most a license can do.

Other than that what you are describing sounds a lot like either a BSD-style license or GPLv2 depending on what you mean by "all derivative works will be distributed with the same license".

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Well, to prevent "any" legal actions is probably impossible, but I would like to get close to it :) . Prohibiting tivoization, or obligation of publishing source code are the type of things that I don't want, as it may trigger legal action against someone. So it isn't fully free, there is some part of ideology of "rights" to something, and my "ideology" would be - "no rights, and no obligations" in the form of the copyleft (with the exception of attribution). –  Luken Oct 15 '12 at 17:03

Well, if you do not care what is done with your product provided that you are properly attributed for your part in it, maybe you could go with a Creative Commons: Attribution license.

It is not designed for software, but for a more generic concept of “work”. However, according to your question you do not care about source redistribution, or any other restriction other than you being properly attributed. CC:By would give you that.

The fact that it is not a software license per se is what I think makes it suit your needs best. Any software license will contain software-specific restrictions, and you seem not to want any of those.

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GPL does exactly what you're asking, with the exception that it mandates source distribution. Source distribution, with GPL, is necessary to achieve the "freedom to" part: without sources, users cannot freely modify the software, which is the primary goal of the GPL.

Alternatively, BSD-style licenses (including other liberal licenses such as MIT, Apache, Mozilla, etc.) also do exactly what you want, except for the viral part. They basically instate the "freedom from" part (i.e., the user can do anything with the software they want, except sue the author and claim that it's their own, and the author can't restrict the user any more than that).

Both licenses allow selling the software for money, putting DRM on it (although that's pointless, since the source is freely available), reverse-engineering binaries, etc.

A halfway solution like you propose is problematic, and not very useful either: if you make it viral, then that's already a large enough obstacle for many corporate users, and whether the modified source has to be published or not is relatively meaningless (more so if you explicitly allow reverse engineering); at the same time, you miss out on the actual benefit of a GPL-like license, namely that it encourages users to publish their changes so that they can be merged upstream.

Considering all this, you should think very hard whether the world needs yet another software license; most likely, it does not. There's a whole zoo of both viral and non-viral licenses, and some of them have even been held up in court.

TL;DR: A license like you propose has no benefits over either BSD or GPL; decide for one of them and live with the downsides.

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I think that when my software will be done, probably I will use more than one license to choose, taking into account the compatibility issues that, that new kind of license can create. Still I personally think that it is really more "free" concept than GPL (that have some forcing power directed into developer). I think that if someone want to hide his code, then shame on him, but I don't particularly feel that he should be punished by law, because I can imagine situations where not showing a code or its parts can be justified (like security reasons). –  Luken Oct 16 '12 at 11:11

That sounds just like GPL to me but for some reason you don't want to give away the source code. As far as I can see you don't technically have to give away the source code under GPL however there isn't really any reason not to do so when you say you want the users to be able to do anything they want with their program and that you want a copy-left licence.

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This is interesting, you're saying that the owner of GPL licensed source code does not need to make that source code publically available, but any down-stream editors do? How does that play if the owner does not make it publically available, but gives it to one person who then makes modifications, they still have to open source that code then due to being modified which clearly goes against the initial users intent. Either I misunderstand the GPL or it really makes zero sense at all for closed source software. –  Jimmy Hoffa Oct 15 '12 at 16:30
    
I was thinking about something like GPL, but without any obligations on source code etc. It doesn't mean that I wouldn't show a source code (quite opposite) but I just doesn't want to make obligation about showing source code of derivative works :) . –  Luken Oct 15 '12 at 16:42
    
The way I read it there is no obligation to distribute any source code if you don't want to however if it does get leaked then it has no legal protection to stop it being passed on. Whether someone wants to disseminate the source code or not is up to the owner of the individual GPL program. –  Inverted Llama Oct 15 '12 at 17:57
    
Doesn't each individual developer working on the source have to publically distribute their source modifications though with GPL? Is that not true if you are the GPL license holder even though you're modifying the software? –  Jimmy Hoffa Oct 15 '12 at 18:35
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-1 for OBVIOUS misunderstanding about the GPL. If you distribute the binary for a GPL'ed object, you are absolutely required by the GPL to make the source available. In theory, you are required to make the source available only to the people you distributed it to, but, since saying "I got it from <XXX> and you can get the source from <XXX>" is absolutely permitted under GPL, in practice you must make the source available to anyone who asks for it. –  John R. Strohm Oct 15 '12 at 19:15

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