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Re: is this free?

On Mon, Nov 22, 1999 at 07:56:29PM -0800, Bruce Perens wrote:
> > it discriminates against people without regular internet access.
> 1. The IBM and Apple licenses also ask for you to have a URL where your
>    modifications can be found. 

It's a lot easier to put some stuff up on a website once you've made some
changes than it is to `regularly monitor the webiste for any notices'. The
former requires you to give the code to a friend to stick up somewhere,
the latter requires you to have regular internet access, and to keep
track of a website whose URL may change.

This clause appears to apply even if you only compile the code without
particularly modifying it, too, presuming that involves `accessing or
using the Source Code'. This doesn't seem a reasonable thing to require
of our autobuilders.

In addition, `please monitor this website', seems just as bad as `watch
all our ads on TV'.

And in any case, whichever of obliation 2a and 2b you choose to fulfill,
it requires notifying AT&T, which has been consistently considered
non-free in the past.

Requiring you to grant AT&T an irrevocable right to make and sell and
modify and distribute and whatnot any patch seems a bit unbalanced,
too: if AT&T is so scared of misusing other people's intellectual "property",
that they reserve the right to terminate the license at any time, then
demanding an unrestricted, perpetual irrevocable license to any changes
you might make seems completely unreasonable.

The first point in GENERAL, is unreasonable: ``if you ever use this
software, you aren't allowed to ever sue us for any piece of your IP we
may have used if it's in this software''.

The sixth point in GENERAL seems like it would discriminate against everyone
not living in New York, USA, personally.

> 3. I think it's _really_ stretching the point, anyway.

Personally, I have enough trouble regularly monitoring slashdot, let
alone every random website run by some random guy who happens to have
written some program I use once a month.

All these name-brand licenses have the same problem, IMO. They're not
about a bunch of equals working together on a product, they're about
some Big Player working with a bunch of nameless munchkins on a product.
It's not the cover-your-ass aspect that's causing problems; the GPL
and BSD licenses do a fair bit of that anyway; it's the imbalance of
the thing.

Perhaps AT&T would be more inclined to make a license that's actually
free if they replaced all the `AT&T's with, say, `IBM', and checked to
see if what rights and obligations they were left with were acceptable.

But `you'll check our website every day or so and only use our code in
this project; we'll use your code however we see fit, and we'll sue you if
you've mislead us in any way'? Please.

BTW, www.opensource.org doesn't seem to have web based archives of its
license-discuss list?


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. PGP encrypted mail preferred.

 ``The thing is: trying to be too generic is EVIL. It's stupid, it 
        results in slower code, and it results in more bugs.''
                                        -- Linus Torvalds

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