29 December 2017

BSD is Short for "Let Me Create in Peace"

There is great power in copyright and its licensing. Careful that your chosen license doesn't take over your life!

I am a BSD or Berkeley Software Distribution license devotee. I am also a classical liberal that just wants to be left alone most of the time. I know, I have met RMS and much of my recent living has been made from Linux, but the BSD license is the license that is most likely to allow me to be creative without fretting licensing defense.

Some attempt to say that their work has been "dedicated to the public domain" to gain peace in the creative act. I enjoy public domain works, but there is no ready way to dedicate something to the public domain now that the Berne Convention insinuates copyright at the time of production. Public domain says there is no copyright, no owner, and therefore no one can grant its lack of license. Public domain work can only be expired from a previous copyright, or a product of the US Government, which was established as a non-owner (apparently). A copyright owner can choose not to "defend" rights to their work, but that doesn't allow people to simply use the owner's work: they still must ask for license to do so.

The BSD license is the grant of license to any comer and use without bothering the original owner for such. BSD acknowledges copyright but provides license to all for any usage outside of stripping away existing ownership. The owner simply says "do what you like with it and don't hold me accountable for it", basically: "Leave me alone".

Some are enamored of the GPL or GNU Public License, supposing that they are providing a license that will cause them to be undisturbed, but that is not so. As the GPL has stipulations, laudably meant to force changes back into the GPL so all can enjoy such, the onus is on the copyright holder to enforce such stipulations, though outside of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) few do so. If honest people want to be able to use a work outside of the GPL, the owner must be sought to gain a further license. If you want something to remain GPL, you, as the owner, must put forth effort to ensure this is done. That sounds like a potential bother to me!

The BSD-type licensing allows a person to be creative and not be bothered by the hassles of copyright enforcement or licensing. This was the essence of such parties as UC Berkeley, various curriculum providers, and software authors, all of whom didn't want to get into the software copyright protection business. It is perfect for a "just let me create" sort of person!