Colin Steele <colin / webg2.com> wrote:
>
>I am struggling with issues of licensing, intellectual property, and
>Ruby code, as it relates to the site I've been working on - the Ruby
>Cookbook (www.rubycookbook.org).
>
>Specifically, my question is:
>
>     "Should a public forum for the development of Ruby code require
>      that the code posted to it be licensed in such a fashion that
>      allows/encourages the open development, use and modification of
>      such code?"

Excellent question.  One problem with CPAN is that the
licensing is a mess.  I think it is important to agree
on licensing up front.

>One might think, "Hey, all comments/code are copyright by their
>respective posters, right?"  That is certainly one possibility.  Many
>user-generated-content sites on the net (like Slashdot), use this
>model.

CPAN also uses it, with the result that if you want to do
something like cut it to CD, you are going to have
serious problems.  And there are modules there which
cannot be used in GPLed code, modules that cannot be used
in commercial code, it is a mess.

>However, the Cookbook is different, in that it is specifically used
>for the archival, distribution, and development of *source code*.  If
>the posted code does not have some sort of open license, it makes it
>illegal (strictly speaking) for that code to be used/modified in any
>way without working out the licensing/ownership issues with the
>author.

Yup.

>There are a ways to resolve this issue.  The one I'm leaning towards
>is having the site's "Terms of Service" specify that any content
>submitted to the site is done under the terms of the GNU Public
>License (GPL).

Good idea.  Bad choice of license.

>What do you folks think of this issue in general?  What do you think
>of having posted code automatically become GPL'd?

I think that a cookbook should be free to be widely
used, including within commercial code.  (Many people
work at companies and it would be a bad idea to have
the lawyers asking why they now have to GPL stuff...)
It should be at least as free as Ruby.  I think that a
BSD type license would be ideal.  So your terms of
service would say that all code had to be available
under license X (where X had very few restrictions)
but commentary about the code remained the property of
their respective posters (thereby preventing someone
from downloading the site, editing slightly, and then
publishing as a book).

I also think that it would be good for RAA to set a
licensing policy early rather than late.

Cheers,
Ben
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