Software licenses are confusing. I thought making a summary would require some useful research and would be a great way to learn more! Also, I was inspired by this WTFPL comic about licenses.
So I sat down and started my research.
Then I broke down and cried.
Why is this shit so hard? The opensource.org site is decent, and even dares annotate pieces. However, for a summary of the popular license you’d have to construct something yourself from the bare license texts.
Anyways, I stopped crying. Grabbed both a beer and a hot cup of tea, and went in for round two. Surely Wikipedia has a good starting point? A zoomed out screenshot of the Comparison of free and open-source software licenses looks like this:
So I started crying again.
Why I is this shit so hard? I guess it’s in part tiredom and beer (or even the tea? :O) talking, as the comparison table is actually quite informative and clean (after blinking once or twice). However, this would not help me summarize the licenses that I would consider using for a project.
In any case, I stopped crying. Poured a glass of whiskey after downing a cup of coffee. Round three.
Time to remember why I was doing this in the first place. Or perhaps not why, but more what triggered this post in the first place (besides the WTFPL comic).
The reason’s actually simple: it was the Stack Overflow license. Specifically this meta question. User “Stefan” asks how to get permission to use a function from a SO post in GPL-licensed software. I had never thought about that: people may have to worry about all sorts of things to use entire snippets from SO posts. And heck: I am also one of “people”…
Interestingly, the solution from a code-providing point of view is simple. Posting on Stack Overflow means you release it under “cc-by-sa 3.0 with attribution required”. However, you can license it in other ways too if you so desire (and have the (copy)right to do so). As user Pëkka puts it in this post:
So I broke down in tears again.
Why was this shit so easy for Pëkka to describe? How can I ever hope to create a text or picture about licenses equally eloquent and explanatory?
I think I can’t. So it’s probably best if I don’t write a post about licences.