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Licensing foo, revisited

In 2013, I wrote about being fed up with licenses. I switched virtually every project to PIZZA-WARE – both my blog and my software projects.

It has been brought to my attention recently that this might not have been a wise choice when it comes to software. My blog doesn’t matter that much, I think. Software, on the other hand, is meant to be distributed. This means that distributers must care about the license. They have to read it, understand it. The actual users of the software should do it, too, but I guess they usually don’t.

PIZZA-WARE is almost unique, although I did not “invent” it. I picked it up some time ago as a variation of Poul-Henning Kamp’s BEER-WARE license. Ironically enough, I don’t remember its origin anymore. Maybe it was only mentioned on some Wikipedia page.

Being that unique means that virtually nobody has ever analyzed the license. Sure, it’s short and simple, and leaves little room for interpretation. That’s why I picked it in the first place. Still, I’m not a lawyer and these things can get very complicated … Using a license this unique makes life harder for everyone.

Long story short, I’m now in the process of migrating my stuff over to the MIT license. It’s very widespread and compatible with GPL. It’s also short and “simple”:

MIT License

Copyright (c) [year] [fullname]

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy
of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal
in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights
to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell
copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is
furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all
copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR
IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY,
FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE
AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER
LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM,
OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE
SOFTWARE.

It’s in the same spirit as PIZZA-WARE, if you ask me, but without the downsides.

(What bugs me is that there is not “the” MIT license. There are multiple licenses from MIT. That particular variant is actually “the Expat license”. Only now are people beginning to consistently call it MIT.)