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Re: [alpine-devel] RFC: Fixing license field in APKBUILDs (or a bit more)

From: A. Wilcox <>
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2018 14:41:27 -0600

On 01/31/18 13:45, Cág wrote:
> William Pitcock wrote:
>> After discussing with jirutka, we came to the conclusion that SPDX 2
>> shorthand identifiers are fine as long as they are not vague. For
>> example "GPL-2.0+" is equally valid to "GPL-2.0-or-later". This
>> resolves the main gripe that Adelie has with SPDX 3.
> Dear,
> I've just worked with the sc package that happens to be in the public
> domain. SPDX doesn't mention how to spell it. Should it be "public
> domain", "Public Domain", "Public-Domain" or something else?
> Thanks

Preface: IANAL, but I have been studying open source legal matters for
over a decade.

sc is, in my not-professional but fairly-well-educated opinion, not
legally packagable.

- There is no license specified. None of the source files actually
state a license. While the README states "This is a much modified
version of the public domain spread sheet sc", it does *not* state that
this distribution is still in the public domain.

- Further, the ending of the README:

> Since some people are wary of using a program that has no guarantee, >
I've decided to provide the following guarantee:
> It is a well-known fact that any non-trivial program has bugs. If
> you haven't found them, you just haven't stumbled upon the proper
> combinations of actions that will cause the bugs to manifest them-
> selves. Since sc stands for "Spreadsheet Calculator", and since a
> spreadsheet calculator is by definition a non-trivial program, sc is
> guaranteed to have bugs.

is not a real license, and does not specify what the user can and cannot
do with the program. It is simply a tongue-in-cheek guarantee that
there are bugs.

In short, there is no actual license for this software, and it has not
been dedicated to the public domain. Maybe you can contact upstream and
ask them to use either:

* CC-0 (a fairly legal public domain dedication)
* Unlicense (another fairly legal public domain dedication, specific to
* WTFPL (fits with the tongue-in-cheek manner of the guarantee)

Let me also just make everyone aware that not all jurisdictions
recognise a public domain as even existing, which is why a simple
statement is not enough. CC-0 and Unlicense (and to a point, WTFPL)
make explicit what you can do with the software even if your
jurisdiction does not recognise PD.


A. Wilcox (awilfox)
Project Lead, Adélie Linux

Received on Wed Jan 31 2018 - 14:41:27 UTC