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Re: Sun Java available from non-free

Francesco Poli <frx@firenze.linux.it> writes:
> On Sat, 20 May 2006 16:18:44 -0500 Anthony Towns wrote:
> [...]
>> Anyway, the background is that James Troup, Jeroen van Wolffelaar and
>> myself examined the license before accepting it into non-free (which
>> is three times the usual examination,

> It may be three times the usual examination, but when the license is not
> *clearly* suitable for the archive under consideration (non-free, in
> this case), the general recommendation is to check with debian-legal,

At least so far as I understand it, the ftp-masters (i.e., the people who
did this check) are the people responsible for verifying and checking
licenses in uploaded packages and debian-legal exists as an advisory body
for the ftp-masters and a place for Debian maintainers to ask for advice,
not the other way around.

Is that not correct?

> Why weren't you able to examine the license in public?

Maybe because Sun didn't want to do multiple public releases of the
license and look indecisive, and instead wanted the license to be vetted
in private first so that they could fix any issues that they considered
problems before the release?

I would have liked them to make more of it clearer, but I have no idea
what the original looked like.  It's possible it improved quite a bit in
that process, and it's not unusual for companies to want to not air their
laundry in public.  That's one of the big differences with free software,
and personally I prefer free software, but we *are* talking about a
license in non-free.  Some degree of standard corporate behavior is to be

> Both the FAQ itself and the DLJ state that the FAQ is not legally
> binding.

> The precise terms are to be found in the license: as long as the license
> is unchanged or unamended (with legally binding additions), the issues
> should not be considered solved...

No one has addressed my question about estoppel.  My guess is that Sun's
publicly stated interpretation of a clause of the license is more legally
binding than you think it is, but I'd love to see a legal opinion.

> It would be bad PR if Debian will have to remove Sun Java from the
> archive, shortly after public announcements that it accepted it in.

It would be bad PR for Sun.  I'm not sure that Debian should care.  We're
on the free software side, remember -- we *do* work through our problems
in public.  That includes changing our mind if need be.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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