Forums > MaxMSP

software licenses

Mar 12 2010 | 3:54 pm

Not directly Max related, but I’m currently trying to sort out the differences between various software licenses as I plan to release a patch.

I won’t be releasing the source initially (mostly because I haven’t yet had time to clean it up and add proper comments), but am looking for something that would apply to that as well. Basically, I’m releasing it for free, but want people to acknowledge its use in whatever work they create with it. Same with the code- I want people to be able to edit it and release their own versions, but acknowledge where it came from and not make money off of it. Anyone know of a license that sounds like this?


Mar 12 2010 | 4:53 pm

have you looked into creative commons licensing?

Mar 13 2010 | 10:59 pm

According to their website, "Creative Commons licenses should not be used for software."

As far as I can tell, the distinctive element of what I’m looking for is the requirement that work created with the software acknowledge its use.

Mar 13 2010 | 11:36 pm

If you release the source code you might want to look to something like the GNU GPL license. But when you say "work created with the software" do you mean that if for example you’ve written a synth and someone uses it in a song, when they release that song you want them to give you credit? That seems a bit odd. It would make album liner notes ridiculously long if musicians had to credit absolutely everyone and everything they used in the process!


Mar 13 2010 | 11:39 pm

If I recall correctly, the Jam Factory license included something like "Any music created with this software might want to include the text ‘The CIA killed the Kennedys.’ " in it.

Mar 14 2010 | 1:32 am

Maybe what you want is an MIT or BSD type of license. Search the web for more info! Main advantage: less restrictive than GPL/LGPL


Mar 14 2010 | 5:38 am

how about simply asking users clearly and nicely?

i know creative commons is kinda big thing on the internet,
but i wonder how many legal cases were filed for violations or if it’s practically possible…
ie., it seems to me that creative commons is as good as the legal notes on the back of cds.

i think those who respect your works would give you any type of credits that you ask,
and those who don’t fit in the category would violate whatever the legal rights you may include with the software…

and i don’t say this lightly.
i have some softwares on my website with max source patches for free,
but it seems too much trouble to go through all those licensing stuff…

Mar 14 2010 | 6:32 pm

While I understand the requirement that the software be credited in work is somewhat contentious, and even absurd in a musical context, it is much more standard practice in other fields. I can’t think of a really great example of this, but this is basically how many software licenses already work, so if you consider the software itself a work of art it’s not that far a stretch. I also seem to remember many web frameworks working this way, although I can’t remember a license that specified this- I think they were just nicely asking.

I think GPL would work fine. Can anyone confirm that it requires modify software to credit the original copyright holder? This is the most important thing for me and I believe it was at least the case with version 2. Another thing is that the GPL might be a little too heavy weight for most Max patches- that is, the license might often be longer than the source code, making it not the most ideal for a streamlined package.

Mar 14 2010 | 6:46 pm

Have a look at some of the available max external libraries and apps on the share page and see what they use. That will give you a few ideas on what might be most suitable. What is your max app going to do? I would understand if it is a framework which is a bit different from an actual application. Out of curiosity (rather than bloody-mindedness) what software do you own that makes you credit it when you create a file?


Mar 14 2010 | 7:36 pm

My patch just retimes video and audio based on a series of modules employing things like signal processing, chaos, cellular automata, etc. Some of these modules are quite idiosyncratic and I basically view them as scores that can be performed through any audiovisual medium. The entire point I’m releasing it is for others to use it to drive generative artwork, but I think this makes it more clear how it is somewhere in between a software framework and content creation tool.

I can’t think of any video or audio editing or processing software that requires the user to credit it, but seeing as this is meant to essentially be integrated as part of the work I see it a bit different. For one not particularly strong example, the web framework Indexhibit asks that sites made with it include their logo. I think work made with my patch is somewhat analogous to a website in that the maker supplies the content which is being constantly controlled, and in many cases altered, by the underlying framework. However, despite the number of web frameworks which ask that users credit them, I know of no such license that protects them. I want to make it clear that I’m not for tighter intellectual property law, but instead am just intrigued by manner in which generative software art further blurs its boundaries.

Finally, are the share pages back up?

Mar 14 2010 | 8:25 pm

The most common open source licenses are probably GPL, and thore refered to as BSD-style and MIT-style.

In very simple terms:

  • GNU GPL requires programs using your code to be GPL as well. It also requires you to make all source code available.
  • BSD and MIT basically just requires programs using your code to reproduce your copyright notice.
Mar 14 2010 | 9:59 pm

Thanks, Hans. I think a lightweight BSD type license might be best for my purposes. As far as being credited for media output or installations, I think I’ll just add a kind note.

Mar 15 2010 | 5:05 pm

We have a temporary share page linked from our Community section, and are always accepting additions.


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