August 11, 2011

World, Space, and Licenses

Common licenses for software include the term “worldwide”. Now, what does worldwide mean? The problem with the term worldwide is that it is ambigous and depending on it’s interpretation, violates against DFSG 6 which states: “No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor”.

The reason: Space travel. If we take the term worldwide to mean “everywhere on earth”, the license becomes non-free, as it prohibits the use outside of this planet. Affected by this problem are the patent section of GPL-3, the Apache 2.0 license, the CC licenses, the GFDL, and probably also others.

Now what should be used instead? Universal? No, that wouldn’t work in case there are multiple ones (while travelling between them (if they exist) could be impossible, it would still be a restriction). The correct team would probably be “omniversal” meaning “everywhere in the omniverse”. But really, avoiding locations is probably the best way.

In any case, if you have received software from me under a license that uses the term “worldwide”, you can treat worldwide as everywhere, and are thus free to use it outside of earth (and other planets).

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