January 13, 2020

Renaming API Copyleftnaming for purpose, not implementation

Feedback on 2.0.0-pre versions of the API Copyleft License has been excellent. Completely unexpected for me, a few folks excited about the license raised concerns about the title. They feel “API Copyleft” does the license a disservice.

I’m inclined to agree.

My original working title for the license was “Shared Component License”. Discussing the early drafts, mostly with others very well versed in copyleft licensing, led to renaming as “API Copyleft”.

I think “API Copyleft” succinctly and accurately describes the license in relation to other licenses. API Copyleft is a copyleft license. And rather than being traditionally “weak” like LGPL, “strong” like GPL, “network” like AGPL, or “file-based” like the Mozilla Public License, API Copyleft’s implementation of copyleft focuses on interfaces, including APIs.

However, I also think that “API Copyleft” describes the implementation of the license more than its purpose or function. Very few people choose copyleft licenses because they want copyleft. They choose copyleft because they want what copyleft gives them, the effects it has on their projects.

The core motivation for choosing a license like API Copyleft is to require sharing of changes and improvements to the project, rather than hoarding and forking. “Share” is indeed the key word. But I don’t think “Shared Component License” has a good ring to it.

Can you think of a better name? Weigh in on the GitHub issue or e-mail me at kyle@kemitchell.com?

more posts about: Open Source Software Licenses

Your thoughts and feedback are always welcome by e-mail.

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