Slightly OT: Licensing questions from a FOSS newb

Jari-Matti Mäkelä jmjmak at
Thu Feb 22 07:44:43 PST 2007

Tyler Knott kirjoitti:
> Jarrett Billingsley wrote:
>> I've decided to go with an MIT license
>> (  What I want to
>> know is if all I really have to do is slap that at the top of all my
>> source files in a comment block, or if there's something more that I
>> have to do.
> Yeap, that's pretty much all you need to do.  If you really wanted to
> you could get your code formally copyrighted

IANAL, but doesn't formally copyrighted mean that you put an explicit
copyright notice on the files? At least in my country no further
procedures are needed.

>, but that's not at all
> necessary since implicit copyrights are just as binding as formal ones
> (at least in most of the world).

Author has implicit copyright to every piece of work he/she creates, but
in this case Jarrett wants to publish something. The implicit copyright
is too restricting for the users of the library so he wants to offer a
license to give more freedoms to the users.

> What you're doing when
> you use a "copyleft" license is saying "Okay, I own this work's (in this
> case code's) copyright and you can use this work if you want but only
> under the terms of X license(s), otherwise all rights reserved" where X
> is/are whichever license(s) you choose for your code.

MIT is not a copyleft license. "Copyleft is a general method for making
a program or other work free, and requiring all modified and extended
versions of the program to be free as well."

> Under most
> licenses can change the license(s) at any time, though only for your own
> code (because you don't own the copyright on the code of other
> contributors).  I recommend reading the Wikipedia article on Copyleft if
> you want more information.

Unless the author has signed some NDA's, licensed patents, etc. he/she
always has rights to relicense the software whenever he/she likes -
AFAIK. The major differences in various licenses are the rights the
licensee gets.

I guess the MIT license is pretty clear. It's compatible with almost
every other license and doesn't require much effort. Just add the notice
to every file. It gives away almost all rights, but if that's what he
wants, then it's totally ok.

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