Relicensing of the RCV

The Text of the RCV has Been Relicensed

Published: Sat, 19 Aug 2023

With the recently released r2307 edition of the RCV, I made a couple major changes. The first change, outlined in this article, is probably the least exciting, but it marks a major shift in how the text of the RCV can be used.

Since I began the RCV project back in 2008, it has always been licensed under a Creative Commons license. The license has worked for the RCV project, but it did have some limitations in how the text of the RCV could be used, plus, I don't agree with some of the values not related to licensing that the Creative Commons organization has associated with their licenses. Furthermore, there were situations where the RCV text could not be used according to the license. So, I decided to research various content licenses to see if I could find a better match for the RCV.

After carefully reading at least ten different content licenses, I decided to pick the Eclipse Public License, version 2.0 (EPL 2.0), which is a license intended for software, but can be applied to other works. The EPL is, in my opinion, easier to read and understand than the Creative Commons license, and it allows for less restrictions on using the RCV text. Another key feature about the EPL is that it is a weak copyleft license. This means that anyone who receives a work under the EPL is given the same rights to use the work, but must also keep that work licensed under the EPL, even if they make changes to the work. This ensures the RCV stays free (as in free to use, modify, and distribute) and open (as in open source).

One of the limitations that the EPL overcomes is when the RCV text is used in a commercial project. Under the previous licence, this technically could not happen. For instance, if the maintainers of a website that contained ads and sponsorships wanted to use a passage from the RCV on that site, that would technically be a commercial use and a violation of the license. The same would apply if an author wanted to use passages of th RCV in a book that they published for sale. I want to avoid those situations and allow the text of the RCV to be used in those types of cases.

This relicensing officially took effect with the release of the r2307 edition, and I will allow this license to be applied retrocatively. So, for all previous editions of the RCV, even though they have been licensed under a Creative Commons license, I will allow them to be used as if they were licensed under the EPL 2.0 license.

Now, I know this was not an exciting change and it probably was more exciting for me than for anyone else (it certainly was a lot of work for me—haha), but I wanted to take a moment to explain this change, just in case someone noticed it.