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On Thu, Apr 21, 2011 at 08:50:52AM +0900, Johnny Morrice wrote:
>
> COPYING is used for GNU things, though I don't know why.
> 
> In case you wanted to check this important issue, the page
> http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-howto.html says "In GNU programs the
> license is usually in a file called COPYING."

While none of them are GNUish, I've taken to using a COPYING file in some
of my projects -- not to contain license text, but to contain some
copyright information, plus information about licenses used by library
dependencies, and to refer to the *actual* license file, which is
generally named after the license (in most cases for my projects, owl.txt
for the Open Works License).

As for changes in case, I find that README, LICENSE, and COPYING files
tend to be a good standard to follow for purposes of making them easy to
find and identify.  I have no objections to the use of (optional)
filename extensions like .markdown and so on, since it's basically the
capitalized word identifying file contents that provides the benefits I
enjoy in terms of being able to find useful information for a project.

For the record, I think actually putting license text in the COPYING file
is a bad idea, *especially* when using absurdly complex licenses like the
GPL.  The filename seems indicative of guidance for the reader, rather
than legal boilerplate -- a "user friendly" filename that leads the user
into an ambush by a wall of legal text.  At least when you see a filename
like LICENSE you know what to expect if it contains license text.  This
is why I prefer to use COPYING to convey information in layman's terms
about stuff like copyrights and summarizing the general license picture
of the software.

I'm kinda disappointed to see stuff like License.txt, which is both:

* not really stand-out and standardized the way LICENSE has become

* generically named so that you don't, for instance, know anything about
  the license text it contains without opening it

Those are my thoughts.  Yours may differ.

-- 
Chad Perrin [ original content licensed OWL: http://owl.apotheon.org ]

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