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Re: IBM Jikes license

john@dhh.gt.org <john@dhh.gt.org> wrote:
> What if IBM had left the patent clauses out entirely? Would we not
> then be saying that the license was clearly DFSG free? Yet such a
> license would grant *fewer* rights than does this one.

In general, it's not possible to know about what patents cover a work
of software.  This is because

(a) the existence of a patent is secret until it's approved
(b) software is just an abstract collection of energy -- it's what it
symbolizes that makes it tread on a patent, or not
(c) patents are written in a fashion which does not make their
applicability to a work of software immediately evident.

So, we're forced to go on the basis of what we know.  If we have no
reason to believe that patents are an issue, we proceed on that basis.
If we have reason to believe that patents are an issue, we proceed on
that basis.

If, for example, we have every indication that Jikes is not constrained
by any significant patents, then it doesn't really matter what the
license says about patents.  But if we at some point find out that it
is constrained by some patents we'll have to clean up the resulting mess.

The simplest assumption, on seeing that patent clause, was that it
would be significant.  However, the additional information which has
been presented here (that the license is intended for re-use on other
pieces of software) makes it less likely to be a problem.

At the moment, I think that this license would be ok for debian
inclusion (but that we should toss anything out of debian that
IBM asks us not to distribute under our terms).


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