Re: Patent clauses in licenses
Andrew Suffield <email@example.com> wrote:
> On Sun, Sep 19, 2004 at 01:14:42PM +0100, Matthew Garrett wrote:
>> So your belief that the GPL is free is entirely based on a belief that
>> RMS is wrong, and your belief that RMS is wrong is based on an absence
>> of something happening?
> No, it's based on the paragraph which you oh-so-convinently deleted.
> Don't play bullshit games.
In general, we respect the interpretation of licenses that the license
author and copyright holder wish to enforce. We may not always agree
with it, but we tend to respect it (see the Pine case, for example). You
have come up with an argument for why you believe RMS to be incorrect,
but you have come up with no argument for why we should act on your
interpretation. It certainly goes against past Debian behaviour, it
would potentially worsen our relations with the FSF even further and it
leaves us open to legal action if you happen to be wrong. I don't think
you're making a desperately compelling case.
>> > The clause you are referring to in the Apache License 2.0 has no
>> > effect on software without patents, due in large part to the efforts
>> > of -legal. It's probably non-free when applied to software with
>> > patents and enforced. This isn't particularly surprising; "software
>> > patents are non-free" is more or less a given.
>> Enforced against whom?
> Doesn't matter.
So a single enforcement action of a patent at some point in the past
should result in us treating that software as non-free? How about
patents that are only enforced in certain countries? I'm actually
genuinely interested in this. Our track record on dealing with patented
code isn't entirely consistent. We probably ought to make that clearer.
>> > This indicates that a proprietary license is free if the software is
>> > useful enough. Therefore it's wrong.
>> I'm sorry, I honestly don't see how you get to that conclusion.
> You said that a restriction is free if it protects free software more
> than it hinders it. Therefore any license is free if it is in some way
> sufficiently useful to free software, regardless of what restrictions
> it introduces. You have introduced the notion that restrictions can be
In order to be interesting in this case, the restrictions must have the
aim of helping free software. The usefulness or otherwise of the
software is completely irrelevent. Sorry, I though that was clear from
>> The GPL's incompatibility with various other licenses hinders free
> This is a feature of both licenses together. You cannot claim that the
> GPL is somehow responsible, for example:
Right, but modifying either license would increase the number of works
we could produce without duplication of effort.
>> We don't consider that to be a problem because we believe that
>> the right to receive GPLed code with no further restrictions is more
>> important than the right to, say, produce a derived work of GPLed code
>> and OpenSSL.
>=2E..the SSLeay license, part of OpenSSL, which has a clause that was
> written for the explicit purpose of hindering combination with GPLed
So the SSLeay license has a restriction that hinders free software? Your
argument appears to imply that we should consider this non-free.
Instead, we appear to have decided that the restriction doesn't hinder
the freedoms that we consider important.
>> My suspicion is that if we were writing the DFSG today
>> rather than in 1997, we wouldn't have any significant qualms about
>> accepting licenses which restricted your ability to use software patents
>> against the developers.
> I'm pretty sure that we'd include a clause to explicitly prohibit it.
I can't see any evidence whatsoever that there's a strong majority who
would agree with that. The social contract was accepted democratically.
At the point where it was accepted, the majority of people agreed with
each of the requirements it imposes.
Matthew Garrett | firstname.lastname@example.org