[ocaml-infra] ocaml.org licensing

Amir Chaudhry amc79 at cam.ac.uk
Thu Feb 27 01:39:48 GMT 2014

[removed caml-list]

Hi Florent,  

Thanks for your comments.  My thoughts are inline.

On 10 Feb 2014, at 23:21, Florent Monnier <monnier.florent at gmail.com> wrote:

> 2014-02-10 15:20 UTC+01:00, Ashish Agarwal wrote:
>> Dear all,
>> The content and implementation of the OCaml.org website do not have
>> licenses specified, which should be fixed. Our goal is to encourage
>> contributions, give appropriate credit to contributors, and maximize the
>> utility of the website for the entire OCaml community. We would like the
>> community's feedback on the following proposal:
>> (A) Content is released under CC BY-SA 4.0 [1].
> I would suggest to replace by:
> (A) Content is released under CC BY-SA version 4.0 or above
> So that when the maintainers of the website want to upgrade the
> CC-by-sa license to a newer version, they don't have to ask to all the
> contributers.

I'm a little wary of this. I can see the benefit but I don't think maintainers should relicense without going back to contributors.  It may also introduce confusion if elements in future versions of the CC-BY-SA are not backward compatible.

I'm inclined to stick with just one version but I welcome other viewpoints on this.

>> (B) Code that implements the site is released under the ISC license [2].
>> (C) Code examples within content are released under the UNLICENSE [3].
>> (D) Design of the site. All rights reserved by the OCaml.org project.
> I would suggest to replace the word "design" by "style guide" or
> "style manual", because for French speaking people it's quite
> ambiguous, and we don't know if "design" also include pieces of CSS
> code that could be reused without any visual similarities.

Interesting point.  I've no objection to changing the wording but I'd like to hear from others about the reuse of CSS.  It seems fine to me but perhaps it might be more confusing to deal with.

> Also what about people willing to just archive the website, like for
> example every link on the French Wikipedia was a cached archive.
> Another case, what about people willing to reuse the current "design"
> of ocam.org far long time after ocaml.org doesn't use this current
> visual style anymore? you know like all the fan website of nostalgics.
> Currently copyright extends to 70 years, what don't just reduce it to
> 10 years after ocaml.org don't use this current visual style anymore?

I hadn't thought of these but I don't think we should worry about them too much.  The intent behind restricting use of the design is to reduce the likelihood of confusion with another site.  If we're no longer using it, then there won't really be anyone to object to a nostalgic fan website.

>> (E) OCaml logo is released under the UNLICENSE [3].
> The UNLICENSE license is a licence for softwares.
> A logo is not a software.
> I would suggest to replace in the text of the UNLICENSE license the
> word "software" by "piece of work" or something similar which would be
> more relevant (the English language is not my born language, so please
> correct this rewording if it should.)

Yes, I think you're right.  The aim is to put the image in the public domain so changing the wording of the unlicense would probably be ok in this case (it would no longer be the 'unlicense' but that's fine).

>> (F) Abstracts, slides from meetings. Rights retained by contributor.
>> Here is our reasoning for each of the above:
>> (A) Content refers to text that is visible by readers at
>> http://ocaml.org(except for code; see (C) below). We'd like others to
>> be able to use these
>> materials but we don't want to create a situation where content that is
>> freely given to the community (which amounts to a substantive volume of
>> work) is then taken and monetized without giving back.
>> The CC BY-SA 4.0 license [1] allows anyone to share and adapt the work,
>> including for commercial gain, as long as that work is also released under
>> the same (or compatible) license. This means that commercial works could be
>> produced but free versions would also have to be made available. Thus, the
>> community wouldn't lose out on any derivative work.
>> (B) Code that implements ocaml.org. We want the code implementing the site
>> to be open source and available for others to use as they wish. Examples of
>> this include the files found under the 'script' folder of the repository
>> [6]. The ISC licence [2] has already been chosen for OMD and MPP, two
>> libraries that OCaml.org relies on substantially. Additional scripts are
>> not particularly complex in nature, and we feel their use should not be
>> restricted.
>> (C) Code examples within content. For example, you can see many of these on
>> the 99 problems page [5]. These are typically small pieces of useful code
>> and we want people to be able to use them however they see fit. We want to
>> do this without the burden of attribution that an open source license (e.g.
>> ISC) would require, so placing them in the public domain seems like the
>> sensible thing to do. The UNLICENSE [3] is one way of putting works in the
>> public domain and is how code examples in Real World OCaml are released
>> [4].
>> (D) Design of the site. This is essentially the CSS, banner image, and
>> custom logos (except the OCaml logo, see (E) below). The design uniquely
>> identifies ocaml.org, and it would be awkward if another site looked
>> similar. It seems sensible to reserve all rights over the design and
>> disallow copying it in any form.
>> (E) The new OCaml logo [7], which you see in the top-left of ocaml.org,
>> should be encouraged. We hope this can be a unifying symbol of all things
>> related to OCaml. Everyone should use this logo in their OCaml blogs,
>> websites, documentation, presentations, T-shirts, stickers, etc. Thus, it
>> should be usable freely by all, which can be achieved by releasing it under
>> (F) OCaml.org also hosts abstracts and slides for various meetings, such as
>> the OCaml Users and Developers Workshop. Contributors should retain all
>> rights over those works or be subject to whatever agreement they have with
>> the respective meeting. They are not considered part of the Content as
>> defined in (A).
>> [1] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/
>> [2] http://opensource.org/licenses/ISC
>> [3] http://unlicense.org
>> [4] https://github.com/realworldocaml/examples/blob/master/UNLICENSE
>> [5] http://ocaml.org/learn/tutorials/99problems.html
>> [6] https://github.com/ocaml/ocaml.org
>> [7] http://ocaml.org/img/ocaml.png
> It would be nice too if the rephrase "software" by "piece of work"
> would also be made for licenses applying on the code, so that when
> someone makes a piece of work that includes at the same time code,
> graphics and music everything could be licensed under the same
> conditions in an uniformly way which would not introduce
> hierarchisation in the different kind of works.

I don't think we should alter the legal documents themselves.  We're using existing licenses because they're widespread and largely understood.  Tweaking those would be akin to forking them, which I think would have more negative effects for us than positive.  The only exception I see to this is the release of the OCaml logo into the public domain, as mentioned above.

Best wishes,

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