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Let's Make License Social! The Star and Thank Author License (SATA License)

by Wenlei Zhu

There are many licenses out there for open source software. GPL, MIT License, Apache License are most popular ones among them.

When creating projects on github/google code, there even is an option for people to choose the most popular licenses.

But to me, those licenses are boring, and for most of the time, I think, nobody care about them, very few people can distinguish them. Actually, it’s just put into a project occupying an embarrassing position, maybe just to make a project feels more like a formal one, and in active developing.

Why not make those licenses more interesting, and attach some social functions for developers?

I’ve come up with an idea called, Star And Thank Author License. The key points are

  • People need to star/+1/Like the project which uses SATA License.
  • People need to thank the authors of the project listed in the SATA License.

Here I am going to explain in details.

How about forking a project with SATA License?

The SATA License stated that

Contributors of this project by forking have the option to add his/her name and 
forked project url at copyright and project url sections, but shall not delete 
or modify anything else in these two sections.

So, when someone used a project B which is forked from project A, he/she still needs to Star and Thank the original project A. For project B, if the author listed himself/herself in the SATA License, then the users of project B also need to star and thank author of project B.

Things are the same if some other developers forked project B. First he need to star and thank the authors of project A and B, then he can list himself in.

Thus whatever point you access in the fork tree, you have to star and thank all the authors from the fork tree leaf up to the root of the tree.

How to star/+1/like projects?

Github are the most popular source code hosting and social coding platform, there is a star button at the top-right corner of project home page. For google code hosting, you can +1 the project, and for others, there is always some like or thumb up system, just click them.

How to thank project authors?

I’ve suggested a few in the license text, but not limited to those

  • Email the authors a thank-you letter, and make friends with him/her/them.
  • Report bugs or issues.
  • Tell friends what a wonderful project this is.
  • And, sure, you can just express thanks in your mind without telling the world.

Actually, the thank-author process can be done in any ways you think OK. Star and thank author are just designed to attach social interaction functions to licenses. When you email a thank-you letter, no matter long or short, you build up a connection with the author. That’s why I think you should let the author know you are grateful. Social developing has unlimited power, without which, Linux will be impossible to be such a success.

Which License is SATA License based on?

The SATA License is based on MIT License. I only added several lines. You can also create your own customized SATA License by sublicensing GPL, or any others.

Remember the primary goal and key point of SATA License is to make licenses social. Don’t limit yourself in those unimportant details.

Enjoy social coding with SATA License!