[seqfan] Re: A thought about the license: on "merciless editing"

Charles Greathouse charles.greathouse at case.edu
Tue Dec 14 21:50:29 CET 2010

There's a difference between the agreement under which contributors
submit ("The OEIS End-User License Agreement") and the warning which
we display:
Contributions are contributed under The OEIS Contributor's License
Agreement, and may be edited, altered, or
removed by other contributors. If you do not want your writing to be
edited mercilessly, then do not submit it here.
You are also promising us that you wrote this yourself, or copied it
from a public domain resource,
or have the right to submit it (see The OEIS Contributor's License
Agreement for details).
Do not submit copyrighted work without permission!

The first (I'm hesitant to refer to it other than by full name; I
can't recall the legal niceties as to whether it is an adhesion
contract, a license, both, or neither) controls the actual terms,
while the second provides a reminder of the terms.  While I'm sure
there is some legal significance to the warning (decreasing people's
ability to object that they didn't know the terms of the
agreement/contract/license), I'm sure it could be tweaked without
trouble.  The OEIS End-User License Agreement, on the other hand, can
only be modified with the advice of a lawyer familiar with this corner
of IP law... a distressingly small group of lawyers, I'm afraid.

Having said that, I think I like the wording (though I wouldn't mind a
few changes).  The warning should be strong so that when major changes
are needed (as you are no doubt aware, this happens!) there's less

Charles Greathouse
Case Western Reserve University

On Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 3:26 PM, Alonso Del Arte
<alonso.delarte at gmail.com> wrote:
> First let me remind everyone that I'm not a lawyer. I don't quite like the
> words "edited mercilessly" in the license, as they suggest rudeness and
> caprice to my mind, but from a legal viewpoint they may be exactly the right
> thing. Or maybe a lawyer would recommend something more along the lines of
> "edited at will and without notice."
> But I think most researchers who use the OEIS would prefer something more
> like "edited for mathematical correctness and clarity, English spelling and
> grammar, and to conform with standard practices for scientific writing."
> Granted that there are a few subtopics in which the OEIS is in a unique
> position to set what the standard practice is (digit concatenation comes to
> mind), but for most core mathematical topics, the standard practices are
> pretty much set and there is little need to come up with new terminology and
> new notations.
> Though I figure a lawyer would object to my wording on the grounds that it
> would sign away the power to edit for reasons other than those I've listed
> here, both foreseen and unforeseen.
> Al
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