Re: [hackers] [slstatus] More LICENSE updates || drkhsh

From: Laslo Hunhold <>
Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2022 05:41:45 +0100

On Wed, 21 Dec 2022 14:36:31 +0000
drkhsh <> wrote:

Dear Aaron,

> So, before this discussion becomes untechnical, here are some facts
> from a quick research.
> "(2) in the case of a work other than an anonymous or pseudonymous
> work, the name and nationality or domicile of the author or authors,
> and, if one or more of the authors is dead, the dates of their deaths;
> (3) if the work is anonymous or pseudonymous, the nationality or
> domicile of the author or authors;"
> For me that means that publishing pseudonymous copyrighted work under
> any license should be fine as long as the license does not explicitly
> mention it?

you are citing US copyright law and it's a whole can of worms across
the world. I could go on citing EU, Russian, etc. (all signers of the
Berne convention) laws, which are lenient or dismissive in regard to
pseudonymous attributions, but always at least require unique
identification of a pseudonym, which can always be a matter of dispute.

If a license is invalid in a certain country's jurisdiction (e.g. if
pseudonyms are used even though not allowed), the code ends up being
"all rights reserved" and thus not satisfying the OSI license criteria.
Even if pseudonyms were allowed by the Berne convention (didn't check),
it would probably at least require unique identifiability of the
pseudonym, casting doubt at the overall license text. I know many
people and companies who are very careful about only building their
software using components with watertight licenses.

Regarding the pseudoynm uniqueness, I think that "pseudonym" in the
law's sense is very thinly stretched in regard to arbitrary
web-nicknames, and the only reason, I think, it's included in some laws
is that when an author writes a book under pseudonym the book doesn't
immediately go into the public domain. We could discuss this forever,
but this ends up being territory where one would have to ask a judge if
a pseudonym is unique enough or not.

Having real names only in a license has other, more practical,
advantages, though: You actually have the chance to reach out to people
even years after the software release, and I've had one positive
experience with this a few years ago. There is simply no chance if you
just have a nickname with a throwaway-e-mail-address, e.g. "PBC
<>", to ever reach out to this person in most
cases after just a few years. Reaching out could be regarding a
relicensing (e.g. ISC/MIT -> GPL or the other way round), technical
inquiry or simply to invite them to something.

I'm amazed about how many people are scared of putting their names on
their works; in a sense it reduces the software's trustworthiness, may
it only be by a subjective factor.

With best regards

Received on Fri Dec 30 2022 - 05:41:45 CET

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