REBOL Technologies

Defining the REBOL source license

Carl Sassenrath, CTO
REBOL Technologies
4-Oct-2012 6:39 GMT

Article #0512
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There's been some concern and discussion over what source license to use for R3. I proposed GPL v2, but maybe that's not the best choice?

Let me explain what I want and let's figure out what will fit or how to shape a license that meets my requirements.

Think of the source license in terms of being a fair trade:

  1. You're going to receive a powerful software system, the results of many years of labor and expense. It won't cost you anything (it is gratis), and you can use, distribute, and embed it however you want (it is libre) -- even for commercial uses.
  2. In return, when you make improvements to that system, you agree to send them back, and if I decide to include them in future distributions, they can be used gratis and libre, not only by me, but by everyone else.
  3. Of course, if you write applications in R3, those do not need to be sent back. You can keep those private, make them commercial, or whatever. You keep all the rights to your application.
  4. Also, if you make extensions (independent modules) to the system, you are not required to send them back. You can keep those private if you want. (Details below.)

So, this is the exchange: You get something; I get something; the whole community gets something. And, if any of us wants to make and sell commercial products, we can do so without any serious hindrance.

Definition of "improvements":

By improvements, I mean enhancements, optimizations, fixes, and porting (to other systems) of the R3 native kernel system - the source work that is licensed to you. For example, if you figure out a way to double the execution speed of the interpreter, you would be obligated to send that back. If you make improvements and do not send them back, then the license is revoked, and you retain no rights to use or distribute R3.

Definition of "applications":

Code that you develop that exists outside of the R3 native kernel system is excluded from the license. That is, I have no fair trade claim to scripts, functions, applications, or services you create that use R3. (Even if "encap'd" into the same binary file.) For example, you write a popular social media system, it's yours. You can keep it private, make it commercial, and do whatever you want with it.

Definition of "extensions":

Also excluded are modular extensions to R3. For example, if you add a streaming video player module, it is not required that you send it back. Although, I very much hope you would! However, if in order to make that module work you change how event handling works or add a video! datatype to the native system, then you would be required to send those back. Not the player module, just the kernel related improvements.

Other notes...

  1. There's also the usual liability disclaimer.
  2. You cannot alter this license.
  3. Source file headers specify the license and must remain unaltered.
  4. You cannot claim to be an author, creator, owner, copyright holder of REBOL.
  5. Also, although I've used the word "trade" above, nothing is traded, it's actually contributed. If some countries require monetary value be placed on it, then it shall be US$1.00 in total for all worldwide usage and rights. (Tell me if this works or not in your country.)
  6. What else did I miss?

So, there you go. That's the basic idea. I hope there's a popular existing license for this model. What do you think?

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