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MIT

The MIT License (MIT)

Copyright (c) <year> <copyright holders>

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

Boost

Boost Software License - Version 1.0 - August 17th, 2003

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person or organization obtaining a copy of the software and accompanying documentation covered by this license (the "Software") to use, reproduce, display, distribute, execute, and transmit the Software, and to prepare derivative works of the Software, and to permit third-parties to whom the Software is furnished to do so, all subject to the following:

The copyright notices in the Software and this entire statement, including the above license grant, this restriction and the following disclaimer, must be included in all copies of the Software, in whole or in part, and all derivative works of the Software, unless such copies or derivative works are solely in the form of machine-executable object code generated by a source language processor.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, TITLE AND NON-INFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS OR ANYONE DISTRIBUTING THE SOFTWARE BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.


Whilst the MIT license cites that all copies of the software must have the license alongside them, it does not express what counts as a copy (i.e. are we talking the executable binary, or the source code?). It also refers to "substantial portions", which seems very subjective. The Boost software license on the other hand is much more specific.


My question is, taking into account the above, are there any meaningful differences between the two licenses? What implications might these differences have?

  • There are also other, subtle, changes that may or may not cause any difference; for example, the lists of granted rights are different, and Boost refers to "persons or organizations/third-parties" while MIT refers only to "persons". – Petr Hudeček May 27 '15 at 20:32
  • FWIW, Boost provides a rationale for their license: boost.org/users/license.html#Rationale – Blaisorblade Aug 9 '17 at 18:29
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The major differences:

  • MIT has a general "deal in the Software without restriction" clause, where Boost enumerates the things a user is permitted to do. For the sorts of things the average user is likely to want to use the software for, there may not be any practical difference, but the MIT license is considerably broader.
  • A copy of the Boost license does not need to be included with an executable binary, while a copy of the MIT license does.
  • The Boost disclaimer covers "anyone distributing the software" in addition to authors and copyright holders; the MIT license doesn't.

Other possible differences differences:

  • A non-corporate-person organization may be unable to deal in MIT-licensed software as an organization, though I'm uncertain about this. You could probably keep an army of lawyers arguing about this point for years.
  • The MIT license may not require including the disclaimer with the license statement. It's unclear whether the disclaimer is part of "this permission notice" or not.
  • thank you! what do you mean by the "non-corporate-person" part? – OMGtechy Jun 23 '15 at 8:54
  • 1
    Corporate personhood: in the United States, a corporation is considered a 'person' for many purposes. Other organizational structures are not. – Mark Jun 23 '15 at 9:02
  • So in England and Wales, a partnership is not a legal person (only the individual partners). Similarly a non-incorporated club is not a legal person (typically the management committee are personally liable). – Martin Bonner supports Monica Mar 1 '16 at 14:05
  • Regarding non-corporate-person organizations: is it sound to modify the MIT license to be clearer, as done by the Boost one, assuming a limited cost? Pages like choosealicense.com/licenses/mit advise the MIT license as a reasonable option. – Blaisorblade Aug 9 '17 at 18:25
0

It would help to have the context to the question of why would it matter to you whether or not the MIT and Boost licences are or are not equivalent.

For illustration purposes, consider that OpenBSD is known to be pretty strict with the copyright law. The OpenBSD Project has this to say on the differences between the 2-Clause BSD licence and the ISC Licence (which is commonly known nowadays as the OpenBSD licence):

http://www.openbsd.org/policy.html

The ISC copyright is functionally equivalent to a two-term BSD copyright with language removed that is made unnecessary by the Berne convention. This is the preferred license for new code incorporated into OpenBSD. A sample license is available in the file /usr/share/misc/license.template.

Basically, the answer to your question probably all comes down to the Berne Convention as well.

Regarding the other answer, on whether or not you must include the text of the MIT licence together with any resulting distribution, I'm a little sceptical, for example, because very often with these shorter licences, the full text of the licence is often included in each individual file covered by the licence (this is usually the case within the BSD community, and OpenBSD and NetBSD source trees, for example, don't even have a separate COPYRIGHT file in its root at all — NetBSD did move it to share/legal/, but OpenBSD doesn't have one at all, apart from the license.template, which is meant just for the new code). So, from a practical standpoint in the BSD-compatible world, I think that the original licence effectively becomes the source code at this point, and you're not required to provide the source code with the executables, so, perhaps the Boost licence is merely a clarification intended to ease the piece of mind given the wide context in which the library is used.

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