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From Richard Fontana <rfont...@redhat.com>
Subject Re: New versions of CC licenses
Date Sat, 07 Dec 2013 05:54:22 GMT
On Fri, Dec 06, 2013 at 08:34:33PM -0500, Sam Ruby wrote:
> On Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 4:39 PM, Richard Fontana <rfontana@redhat.com> wrote:
> 
>     On Fri, Dec 06, 2013 at 04:10:23PM -0500, Jeffrey Thompson wrote:
>     > In my hypo from a few notes ago, A distributes software to B under AL2.0.
>      B
>     > combines it with GPL code and distributes the result to C under the GPL.
>      As
>     > far as C is concerned, the GPL is the only license it needs to read in
>     order to
>     > understand what rights it gets from B, even for A's code.  AL2.0 is in
>     the
>     > notices file and C can review that if it wants to, but if there ever is a
>     > dispute between B and C, the license of record, the terms that get
>     submitted to
>     > the court for interpretation, is the GPL, right?
> 
>     Maybe, maybe not, depending on what the dispute is about. "The only
>     license it needs to read" is not correct. C needs to read the Apache
>     License 2.0 to understand fully the rights it is getting and the
>     requirements or obligations it has to upstream licensors.
> 
>     The Apache License does not *vanish*.
> 
> 
> I'm having trouble reconciling this with what the LibreOffice community does
> (with our blessing!).  Note that there are no mentions at all of Apache on
> either of the following pages:
> 
> http://www.libreoffice.org/download/license/
> http://www.libreoffice.org/about-us/faq/licensing-faq/
> 
> That project certainly gives the strong impression that LGPL2 (and MPL) are
> "the only license it needs to read"... for licensees of that project.

I won't speak of LibreOffice which is a unique case for many reasons. :)

But okay, maybe "*needs* to read" is debatable. Depends on the
circumstances. In Jeff's hypothetical above, suppose I'm C and I want
to use the A code in some GPL-incompatibly-licensed product or
project. Sure, I can say that the A code got magically transformed
into GPL code and is tainted forever, forcing me either to find an
upstream copy or variant (which won't always be easy or suitable) or
to accept that the A code is stuck in a GPL state or to find or write
some substitute. But if it's clear enough upon analysis that the A
code was ALv2 and was not adapted in such a way that the adaptation
would have to be licensed under GPL (a common scenario), then I ought
to look at what ALv2 says and see what options that gives me.

In the open source universe there are lots of projects that I would
say are, in presenting the software to the world, hiding (to some
degree) the licensing complexity of the software they release. This is
not done to deceive anyone; I think it's just thought that it's enough
to give the user the opportunity to find out as much information as
the project itself was able to find out. There's a high level of trust
inherent in the whole system that it is possible to find out a
satisfactory amount of information. (This has implications for
proprietary software since typically such software incorporates code
that originates with open source projects.) I stopped complaining
about this complexity-hiding practice long ago; it's a cultural
fixture and there's not much I can do about it.

 - RF

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