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Re: Automake: use of modified Perl modules & GPL

From: Elaine -HFB- Ashton
Subject: Re: Automake: use of modified Perl modules & GPL
Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2001 09:27:42 -0500
User-agent: Mutt/1.2.5i

Russ Allbery address@hidden quoth:
*>> The important thing is that it should be stated clearly in CPAN what the
*>> license terms of each module on CPAN are.
*>I agree that that would be desirable.  CPAN is fairly loosely structured,
*>though, and there aren't a lot of pre-requisites that have to be met for
*>getting a module onto CPAN.  I'm not sure if such a requirement would be
*>workable within the current way that CPAN is structured.  I think that
*>authors should definitely be encouraged to make some explicit statement
*>about licensing, whatever scheme they may choose.

Desireable, yes, but as ever, requirements are not. I don't know if Mr.
Schwern has this particular item in his plan for CPANTS, but I'll
certainly suggest it as a point of recommendation. Another thing we could
do is to add a license entry in the pod framework generated by h2xs.

Personally, I don't care if people use the GPL, AL, BSD or make up their
own and call it the 'rooty tooty fresh and fruity' license which requires
the user to eat at Denny's while using the module as long as it is an
appropriate use of the mirror, i.e. it is open source and it is not demo
or commercial-ware, etc. 

Were we to get into the business of requiring licenses we would also have
to do the task of checking for and possibly removing items that are of
potential legal liability. Perhaps it will come to that, but resisting
this undesireable event for as long as possible is more attractive than
stirring that particular firestorm. CPAN is not the licensing arm of the
Perl community nor do we wish to be. We respect the freedom of the
developers to write their code, license it as they see fit and upload it
with the same respect we give them and so far we have seen no reason to
rethink this practise. 

Also, we would need to pay someone to do this job since it would be quite
a task to track people down and get all the licenses in order. To do this,
we would need to incorporate CPAN and by doing so, we would need to retain
legal counsel as we would the be open to the potential of being sued. At
this point, I don't see the potential gain outweighing this unsavoury

*>In any event, the specific module in question at the start of this thread
*>was apparently contributed directly to Perl core, so provided that one can
*>assume that someone contributing to a package under a specific license is
*>implicitly licensing their code under that same license unless they say
*>otherwise, that module is under the same terms as Perl itself.  I don't
*>know what the GNU Project policy is on whether or not that assumption can
*>be safely made in a case like this.

There are only 3 exceptions that I'm aware of in the Perl core; the
documentation which has a slightly different license, the JPL which, as
I recall, was copyrighted to ORA but they changed it to AL/GPL with 5.6
and File::Glob has a BSD license. All of these modules state their
deviation from the standard license.

As ever, nothing can substitute for sound legal counsel when dealing with
such matters should the need arise. 


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