Licensing: FSFE on simplicitity and lenght of licenses

FSFE stating that everyone would like that free software licences were shorter, talks about GPL and LGPL lenght, claiming that a longer GPL doesn’t have to mean more complex.

FSFE fellowshipFSFE Fellowship initiative by Stefano Mainardi

The number of words needed to ensure that software users had the four freedoms in the 1970s was zero. There were no software patents, no DMCA/EUCD laws, software generally came with source code, and there was generally nothing limiting a person from redistributing software.

As software distributors started blocking these freedoms by legal and technical means, it became necessary for software that was intended to come with those freedoms to be accompanied by licences granting those freedoms and requiring others to pass them on when they pass on the software.

GPLv1, written in 1989, had 1,500 words. GPLv2 has 2,300 words. Draft 2 of GPLv3 has 4,000 words. The most important implementation detail is that it has to work in court, and this can’t be compromised for the sake of making a shorter text. But if you can see ways to make it simpler, that would be very useful because it’s not only technology lawyers that have to read the GPL, it’s software developers and judges too.

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