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Re: Patents (was a bunch of other stuff)

Bruce Sass wrote:
> ...then the license of the patent code became non-free at some later
> date.
non-free.  A Free License to "anything" can not be revoked ('cept maybe by
the licnesee violating the license and that would be on a
single-case-by-case basis).  If a "free software" relied on a non-free
patent license (because of a revocation clause) then that software would be
contrib at best, non-free if the patented algorithm can't be easily

> I'm trying to get at the difference between depending on someone elses
> library routines (where a license change requires a new release?),...
The license for the library is non-free.  That would put "your program"
into contrib, at best.  It's always better to not rely on something that
doesn't qualify as DFSG-Free unless you have no other choice.  In those
cases, you just bite the bullet and realize that "your program" isn't pure
Free Software.

> As a worst case scenario, 
> a patent could be like a `revoke-on-a-whim' clause in a license.
> Simply because it is not at all clear what would happen if a party and
> a patent holder stood in front of a judge, and the party was trying to
> argue that the patent holder can not set the terms of the license.
I'm not a IP lawyer, hell, I'm not a lawyer at all.  Company I'm working
for has been in a few patent lawsuits the last two years (plaintiff
asserting ownership :( )  And from what I gather from the "talk down to the
techie's" explanations, patents can have licenses on them just like
copyrights can... so the patent holder can create a "Free Software" license
to his patent.  In that case, there would be no situation that wouldn't be
clear infront of a judge.  The party would have a license in had giving him
Free Software rights.

> To take it a step further,
> since the outcome of the above conflict would not necessarily be the
> same in all jurisdictions, it could be argued that the license
> may not always be the same for everyone.
DFSG doesn't depend on jurisdictions and their laws.  The statement "void
where prohibited by law, or what not" does not make a license non-free.

> Is a patent a one way ticket into non-free?
Not as long as the license to that patent is non-free.

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