Licence choice of version proxy, licence stewardship

Ian Jackson ijackson at
Thu Nov 27 13:47:12 UTC 2008

Several of the recent FSF licences have a `licence proxy' feature,
where the copyrightholders can name a proxy who will decide whether
new versions of the relevant licence apply.  And it sometimes arises
that projects want to change licence and this can be very difficult

So I think the licence proxy feature is useful and I think it can
usefully be simulated and generalised.  I think one thing that SPI
could usefully do would be to act as a `choice of licence proxy'.

I think this kind of arrangement might make a better alternative to
copyright assignment to SPI.

I was thinking something along these lines:


    Gnomovision - a program to reveal invisible gnomes
    Copyright (C) 2007 Ian Jackson

    This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or
    modify it under the terms of version 3 of the GNU General Public
    License as published by the Free Software Foundation.

    You may also redistribute and/or modify this program under any
    licence which is has been publicly endorsed by the Free Software
    Foundation as a free software licence, and which has also been
    publicly endorsed by Software in the Public Interest (SPI) as a
    suitable licence for this particular work.

    Therefore currently (by virtue of Board Resolution
    2008-12-01.spqr.1 of by Software in the Public Interest) you may
    also distribute this program according to the GNU Affero General
    Public Licence, version 3.

    This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
    but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
    GNU General Public License for more details.

    You should have received a copy of the licences along with this
    program.  If not, see



    1. SPI has the authority to approve an alternative licence
       for Gnomovision, and it has been suggested that we do so.

    2. Further to our Position and Promises Regarding Intellectual
       Property, we have consulted with available past and present

    3. We have concluded that the following change has the project's
       contributors' rough consensus approval, and is in the interests
       of the project's developers and users, and of the Free Software
       community as a whole.


    4. We hereby endorse the GNU Affero General Public Licence
       version 3 as a suitable licence for all versions of

    5. This endorsement applies irrevocably to the current version,
       and all past versions of Gnomovision.  It also applies
       irrevocably to all contributions to Gnomovision in the future,
       except that if Software in the Public Interest revokes this
       endorsement the endorsement does not apply to contributions
       made to Gnomovision after the endorsement is revoked.

What do people think ?

Is SPI now sufficiently stable and robust that this would work without
putting SPI under undue stress ?


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