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#1 2020-10-22 16:30:51

Toad39
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Registered: 2020-07-06
Posts: 46

[SOLVED] License Allowing Distribution for Testing

I'm trying to make a dual-license source-available software that allows copying of the software for private use, but not commercial use, with the exception of the copyright holders, who are 5 or so people. I planned on doing that by modifying a copyleft license, stating that copies must be distributed with a very restrictive license that doesn't allow distribution or commercial use. My questions are:

  • Are there any licenses that already have this model?

  • If not, are there any recommended licenses to implement this model with?

Thank you for your consideration.

Last edited by Toad39 (2020-10-23 15:42:30)

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#2 2020-10-22 16:55:03

schard
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From: Hannover
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Re: [SOLVED] License Allowing Distribution for Testing

I think this question is entirely in the wrong place here as
1) It's about law, not Linux. Also laws differ between countries.
2) You're probably not having your target audience here, since what you're suggesting goes against the Free Software spirit, you'll find in most GNU/Linux communities.

I also doubt that you'll reach your implied goal.
Why would anybody test your code if it only benefits the gain of a selected few people but not the entirety of humanity or even themselves?

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#3 2020-10-22 17:25:34

Toad39
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Registered: 2020-07-06
Posts: 46

Re: [SOLVED] License Allowing Distribution for Testing

schard wrote:

I think this question is entirely in the wrong place here as
1) It's about law, not Linux. Also laws differ between countries.

Where would it go? I tried the open source SE, and it got closed.

schard wrote:

2) You're probably not having your target audience here, since what you're suggesting goes against the Free Software spirit, you'll find in most GNU/Linux communities.

True.

schard wrote:

I also doubt that you'll reach your implied goal.
Why would anybody test your code if it only benefits the gain of a selected few people but not the entirety of humanity or even themselves?

I probably should have used a better choice of words. I would like anyone could use it privately, but not commercially. I'll update my post.

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#4 2020-10-22 17:44:49

schard
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From: Hannover
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Re: [SOLVED] License Allowing Distribution for Testing

Toad39 wrote:

I probably should have used a better choice of words. I would like anyone could use it privately, but not commercially. I'll update my post.

Okay, that makes more sense. Still not in the spirit of Free Software, but I think I understand you now better.
You may want too look into what MongoDB did in that regard.

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#5 2020-10-22 19:02:29

Trilby
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Re: [SOLVED] License Allowing Distribution for Testing

You can absolutely provide completely different licenses for different people.  So you do not need a single license that meets all your goals.  Clarify your two sets of goals, and I suspect you will easily find licenses that match those goals.

For your goals, I'm confused by your wording about copies requiring a restrictive license that prevents (re)distribution.  The license will never prevent you from distributing the software and allowing others to use it (assuming you are the [sole] intellectual property owner).  Redistribution only applies to what the recipients can do with it.  If you do not want recipients redistributing it, you simply to not offer this provision in the license.

So overall it sounds like you want to grant permission to use for noncomercial purposes, perhaps modify, but not redistribute.  Can you clarify if this is correct and / or how  these permissions would differ between different sets of users?

You also indicate that one set of users (5 or so people) are copyright holders.  Does this mean that all 5-6 people (you included) have shared ownership of the intellectual property (i.e., are you a business / organization which would be named as the copyright holder) or do each of you have ownership of different components of the overall project?

@Schard, you're not suggesting that something not in the "spirit of Free Software" should be avoided on these forums are you?  This is not Parabola.  Arch packages proprietary software, and archers can get support on these forums for working on proprietary projects.

Last edited by Trilby (2020-10-22 19:04:59)


"UNIX is simple and coherent..." - Dennis Ritchie, "GNU's Not UNIX" -  Richard Stallman

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#6 2020-10-22 20:43:33

eschwartz
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Registered: 2014-08-08
Posts: 3,768

Re: [SOLVED] License Allowing Distribution for Testing

Trilby wrote:

@Schard, you're not suggesting that something not in the "spirit of Free Software" should be avoided on these forums are you?  This is not Parabola.  Arch packages proprietary software, and archers can get support on these forums for working on proprietary projects.

I guess it's more likely that people here will often avoid topics about proprietary stuff. e.g. I'm not personally interested in helping people with such packages even if they are in [community].

But anyway this thread is certainly a valid thing to discuss in the current subforum. And I think the answer you gave is an excellent overview of the options...


Managing AUR repos The Right Way -- aurpublish (now a standalone tool)

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#7 2020-10-22 21:43:40

Toad39
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Registered: 2020-07-06
Posts: 46

Re: [SOLVED] License Allowing Distribution for Testing

<all the following quotes are by Trilby>

So overall it sounds like you want to grant permission to use for noncomercial purposes, perhaps modify, but not redistribute.  Can you clarify if this is correct and / or how  these permissions would differ between different sets of users?

I wanted there to be two sets of users, consumers and copyright holders. The consumers can use the program as you said (grant permission to use for noncommercial purposes, perhaps modify, but not redistribute), but the copyright holders can do whatever they want.

You also indicate that one set of users (5 or so people) are copyright holders.  Does this mean that all 5-6 people (you included) have shared ownership of the intellectual property (i.e., are you a business / organization which would be named as the copyright holder) or do each of you have ownership of different components of the overall project?

We would have shared ownership of the whole project, but we are not a registered organization in the country that we are in. If we were an organization, we can just state the organization as the copyright holder, but I was wondering how we could do it when we're not an organization yet.

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#8 2020-10-22 22:08:22

eschwartz
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Registered: 2014-08-08
Posts: 3,768

Re: [SOLVED] License Allowing Distribution for Testing

Toad39 wrote:

<all the following quotes are by Trilby>

So overall it sounds like you want to grant permission to use for noncomercial purposes, perhaps modify, but not redistribute.  Can you clarify if this is correct and / or how  these permissions would differ between different sets of users?

I wanted there to be two sets of users, consumers and copyright holders. The consumers can use the program as you said (grant permission to use for noncommercial purposes, perhaps modify, but not redistribute), but the copyright holders can do whatever they want.

The (sole) copyright holder of a work does not use licenses to use the work. Instead, the ownership is used and the copyright holder has unlimited right to do literally anything.

The (sole) copyright holder cannot take away his own permission to redistribute. Though he might choose not to do so.

If multiple people hold the copyright, then each individual may not use the parts owned by the others, without permission (i.e. a license). Hence, the right to do "literally anything" with only part of the code is not of practical benefit.

The copyright holders may grant each other an exclusive license with arbitrary terms. They may then choose to use EITHER this license OR the license which the general public has been granted.

It is even possible to grant the general public, multiple licenses. Then random users may choose to use EITHER the first license, OR the second license, OR however many other license options exist. This is known was "dual licensing".

Toad39 wrote:

You also indicate that one set of users (5 or so people) are copyright holders.  Does this mean that all 5-6 people (you included) have shared ownership of the intellectual property (i.e., are you a business / organization which would be named as the copyright holder) or do each of you have ownership of different components of the overall project?

We would have shared ownership of the whole project, but we are not a registered organization in the country that we are in. If we were an organization, we can just state the organization as the copyright holder, but I was wondering how we could do it when we're not an organization yet.

Well, you need something to assign copyright to, which is a legally binding entity owning the code and controlled by the ~5 of you using your choice of org structure. I'm not sure there's a workaround for that, but then, I'm no expert and *definitely* not a lawyer.

Last edited by eschwartz (2020-10-22 22:09:42)


Managing AUR repos The Right Way -- aurpublish (now a standalone tool)

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#9 2020-10-22 23:13:46

Trilby
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Re: [SOLVED] License Allowing Distribution for Testing

I second all the above and would just add this: if the five of you collectively actually are the copyright holder(s) and the whole project as is co-owned by all of you as a group, then none of you need a licese to do anything with the code.  So you only need one license: what can non-owners do with it.

As to whether a group of people can share ownership without establishing some form of organization, that's where a copyright / IP lawyer might be helpful.  I know an organization can be a copyright owner / holder, and I know an individual can.  I don't know if a group of individuals can - and even if they can, it could be messy.

I'm pretty sure you could simply list all 5 names as copyright holders.  For the rest of the world (world population minus 5) that'd have the same legal impact as a single copyright holder.  But among the 5 of you is where it could get tricky if one of the five decided to do something shady that the other four didn't like and one or more of the other four tried to take them to court (I honestly haven't the slightest clue what would happen in this case: there may be laws or precdent about it that a lawyer would know, but this is definitely muddy water).

That said, if the five of you are friends (and assuming you will remain friends) then this may not matter.  Of course, if you are charging money for a product, do not assume friends will remain friendly.  Make a plan.

If I were in your place (with a huge IANAL caveat) I suspect I'd 1) list all 5 names on the copyright, 2) create a license for other users, and 3) write up a clear contract (not license) among the 5 copyright owners delineating how you will work together and how you will handle conflicts when they arise.

Of course, with all this said, you really should look into creating an organization.  In the US, it is ridiculously easy to start an LLC.  And even if you don't want to go with an LLC (if money is involved in any way, you should!) you can also create a general partnership.  If you create a contract among the 5 people involved and everyone signs, you really have created a general partnership - just give it a name, and that name can be the copyright holder.  While these details are based on my (limited) knowledge in the USA, I'm pretty sure the basics at these simplest / smallest forms of businesses would be similar elsewhere.


"UNIX is simple and coherent..." - Dennis Ritchie, "GNU's Not UNIX" -  Richard Stallman

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#10 2020-10-22 23:24:20

schard
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From: Hannover
Registered: 2016-05-06
Posts: 1,020
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Re: [SOLVED] License Allowing Distribution for Testing

Trilby wrote:

@Schard, you're not suggesting that something not in the "spirit of Free Software" should be avoided on these forums are you?

No, I am not. Stop putting words into my mouth.

Trilby wrote:

This is not Parabola.  Arch packages proprietary software, and archers can get support on these forums for working on proprietary projects.

I know. Thank you for stating the obvious.

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#11 2020-10-22 23:27:13

Trilby
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Re: [SOLVED] License Allowing Distribution for Testing

Calm down, no one put anything anywhere.  I asked a question.  I'll refrain from ever doing so again - which I already commited to doing, but somehow let my guard down and thought you might be a decent human again.  My mistake.


"UNIX is simple and coherent..." - Dennis Ritchie, "GNU's Not UNIX" -  Richard Stallman

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#12 2020-10-22 23:38:26

eschwartz
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Registered: 2014-08-08
Posts: 3,768

Re: [SOLVED] License Allowing Distribution for Testing

schard wrote:
Trilby wrote:

@Schard, you're not suggesting that something not in the "spirit of Free Software" should be avoided on these forums are you?

No, I am not. Stop putting words into my mouth.

Trilby wrote:

This is not Parabola.  Arch packages proprietary software, and archers can get support on these forums for working on proprietary projects.

I know. Thank you for stating the obvious.

Not only didn't words get put into your mouth, Trilby's interpretation of the words which you *did* use are the interpretation I would use too, and you haven't convinced me otherwise.

And clearly "This is not Parabola" wasn't obvious to you -- or so I'm forced to conclude by your proposition that "You're probably not having your target audience here" due to it violating the free software spirit which only some/many people here care about. Furthermore, even in free software there are different opinions. There are passionate free software advocates who include license clauses like "you may not use the software for evil" which is, presumably, ethically good, but goes against the "spirit of free software".

"Free to use for non-commercial purposes" is not exactly the bastion of proprietary software. There's a Creative Commons license for this.

Trilby, nevertheless I think your analysis is maybe a tad strong...


Managing AUR repos The Right Way -- aurpublish (now a standalone tool)

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#13 2020-10-23 00:51:15

sabroad
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Registered: 2015-05-24
Posts: 160

Re: [SOLVED] License Allowing Distribution for Testing

Toad39 wrote:

I planned on doing that by modifying a copyleft license, stating that copies must be distributed with a very restrictive license that doesn't allow distribution or commercial use.

Redis tried doing that by relicensing some modules as "Apache 2.0 with Commons Clause" to prevent commercial use but ended up relicensing again with "Redis Source Available License (RSAL)".

As Manish Gupta, Redis Labs' CMO, explained, "It didn't work. Confusion reigned over whether or not the modules were open source. They're not open-source."
https://www.zdnet.com/article/redis-lab … w-license/

Sometimes, you shouldn't use an open-source licence to make out that it is, and instead use a proprietary licence to call it what it is.

Last edited by sabroad (2020-10-23 00:54:52)


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#14 2020-10-23 01:12:51

Trilby
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Registered: 2011-11-29
Posts: 24,640
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Re: [SOLVED] License Allowing Distribution for Testing

sabroad wrote:

Sometimes, you shouldn't use an open-source licence to make out that it is, and instead use a proprietary licence to call it what it is.

Absolutely.  Keep it simple.  The license should concisely outline what rights the licensee has.  You can always add an FAQ that talks about why you licensed a certain way, or what your intent is - but the license itself should simply enumerate the rights you are granting to the licensee.


"UNIX is simple and coherent..." - Dennis Ritchie, "GNU's Not UNIX" -  Richard Stallman

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#15 2020-10-23 15:42:12

Toad39
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Registered: 2020-07-06
Posts: 46

Re: [SOLVED] License Allowing Distribution for Testing

Okay, thank you @Trilby, @sabroad, @eschwartz, @schard.

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