Perl Artistic License Gets A Makeover

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The Perl Foundation published drafts of both the Artistic License version 2.0 and its Contributor License Agreement, seeking public comment on both.

Work on a new license has been progressing since 2000, according to Zonker Brockmeier’s report on Newsforge about the release of drafts of both licenses.

Lawyers and organizations that use Perl received the first look at those drafts before they made it out to the public. Although the 2.0 Artistic license is longer than 1.0, not much has changed.

The report cited Perl Foundation board member Allison Randal’s comments on those tweaks:

“Most of the changes we made were clarifying and simplifying the language of the license so it would be easier for average human beings to understand, and so the legal implications of some of the terms are more immediately obvious.

“We removed some anachronisms, particularly the explicit references to posting modifications on ‘Usenet’ or ‘uunet.uu.net’ or compiling via ‘undump’ or ‘unexec.’ And, we intentionally avoided future anachronisms, so Artistic 2 has no references to ‘CD’ or ‘DVD’ distribution, or compiling with ‘gcc’ etc.”

(Bonus grey hairs will be awarded to our readers who remember UUnet without hitting a search engine first. Don’t worry, I gained some too.)

The new Artistic License contains a relicensing clause. The Perl Foundation created this to allow “people to redistribute a Modified Version of an Artistic License package under one of the so called ‘copy-left’ licenses,” said Randal in the report.

A significant sign of the times has been reflected in language addressing patent issues. The sue-happy environment created by aggressive litigants and questionable patent issuances by the US Patent Office contributed to a climate where the Perl Foundation had to consider that.

The Contributor License Agreement should present contributors with a process similar to that used by the Apache project, according to Randal. That way, the Perl Foundation receives the copyright to the compilation of contributions, while contributors retain copyright to individual works licensed to the Foundation.

The new licenses could be approved before the end of the year, and possibly sooner depending on the comments raised during the public review.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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