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From Stefano Mazzocchi <>
Subject Re: Licenses (was Re: Image Serializers)
Date Thu, 13 Apr 2000 00:37:05 GMT
Robin Green wrote:
> Stefano Mazzocchi wrote:
> >Robin Green wrote:
> [snip]
> > > The FSF _owns_ a lot of code merely because it recommends to individual
> > > people that they donate code to it for legal reasons, just like the ASF
> > > does.
> >
> >I find this offensive for the ASF. Unlike GNU, we are not trying to
> >legally impose our view of the world on top of others: we try to create
> >a common technology background for software that enforces open
> >standards, using the simplest possible licence that both protects the
> >developers and doesn't limit the code's scope.
> I'm sorry you found that offensive. All I was doing was pointing out that
> this sort of statement:
> "Classpath is GNU software and this project is being officially sponsored by
> the Free Software Foundation. Because of this, the FSF will hold copyright
> to all code developed as part of Classpath. This will allow them to pursue
> copyright violators in court, something an individual developer may neither
> have the time nor resources to do."
> is similar to the philosophy of the ASF to have all contributions tagged as
> "(C) Apache Software Foundation", for much the same reasons.
> We needn't get into a GPL license debate here. Suffice it to say I don't
> like the GPL personally, and I avoid it like the plague (except for my
> operating system and utilities, until such time as a good open source,
> non-GPLed, Java replacement is available) - but even I think that accusing
> the FSF of "legally imposing their view of the world" is going too far. They
> merely advocate stridently, and stipulate constraints on software which they
> own the copyright to. If some people don't like those constraints, they can
> still use the software and even modify it internally within their
> organization - they just can't distribute it.

You're right, I went a little bit too far. I apologize.
> Let's not forget, the GPL is much _less_ restrictive than say a typical
> Microsoft license.

Totally. When RMS and I met last year, we had a long conversation about
GPL vs. BSD... it turns out that both of us agree that we are both on
the "good side" of the fence. But following different beliefs (I might
add: due to our different view of the world).
> (It's a bit like being accused of "imposing" one's views on others, when
> someone asks why I am a vegan and I merely answer their question.)
> > > If Megacorp Inc has a problem with making certain code available to
> >others,
> > > they will equally avoid contributing under either the LGPL or the Apache
> > > license. But that doesn't mean they won't _use_ the products under those
> > > licenses - cf Apache, Linux.
> >
> >You are totally right, but I would not want to stopping distributing
> >Cocoon because I don't want to make it GPLed, would you? :)
> No :)
> >
> > > In fact, even GPLed code can have proprietary mods if they are not
> > > _distributed_ - or if Linus Torvalds makes a legally-dubious exception!
> >;)
> >
> >The whole legal business of open source licenses is totally fake.
> Hmmm... and you state this under what authority? How do you know this?

No open source license was tested on "real-life" legal system. All OSS
licenses contain big legal flaws, for example, the Apache License can be
easily considered illegal from a US export point of view. In fact,
people from IRAQ can use and download the Apache Web Server.

Also, what about pattents? what about the advertising clause? where is
the "this software uses software copyright of the ASF" clause visible
enough? what does "visible enough" mean?

Being european, I mostly don't give a damn about all these things since
I don't live in a country "where you can get sued for hot coffee spills"
(like Linus once said).

But do you think that we could win against, say, Microsoft using Apache
code inside IIS without saying anything? I strongly doubt it.

It would be much easier to waste them on slashdot for that ;-)
> (IANAL) ;)
> There is a _big_ difference between typical open source licenses, which are
> a set of permissions by the copyright owner, and typical shrinkwrap licenses
> which have a "by clicking here / opening this package you accept all these
> terms" clause. Certainly I would agree that a license that you cannot read
> until you have accepted it by opening the package, as happens with some
> software bought in shops, is legally dubious. :-)

No, this is not the case.

You agree to the license by either using, modify or redistributing the
software or parts of it. This means that you had to open the package,
then you find a README file that points to the LICENSE file for legal

This is not the problem. The problem is that such a license might well
not mean anything from a legal point of view, even if it makes perfect
sense for people.

We are used to exact sciences, where the code is either compiled or not,
valid or not, working or not: no shades of gray.

Law is a human science, so nothing like this. Analog all the way thru.


Stefano Mazzocchi      One must still have chaos in oneself to be
                          able to give birth to a dancing star.
<>                             Friedrich Nietzsche
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