Re: AT&T source code agreement
I got this from someone at AT&T.
I'm a little busy today and tomorrow, but perhaps someone other on the
list would care to write a reply explaining why we think their CYA
clauses invalidate the licence's freedom and how they could CYA just
as well without doing so.
Stephen: The Debian Free Software Guidelines are at the *bottom* of
but I'd be inclined to think that the issues we're concerned about
here are not very apparent from the letter of the DFSG.
Side note: We really need an annotated list of Frequently Made
Mistakes somewhere on www.debian.org. No, I'm not volunteering for
editor (that ought to be a registered developer with the necessary
access to the server) but on a quieter day I'd be willing to help
writing explanations (or digging through the list archives for
On Tue, 21 Mar 2000, Stephen C. North wrote:
> I don't belong to debian-legal or debian-developers so I can't tell if
> there's been any further discussion.
> Perhaps you could forward this to anyone else that might be interested
> in commenting.
> Dave Korn, Ben Lee (our attorney here) and I were generally responsible
> for modifying the AT&T source code license so it would comply with the
> so-called Open Source Definition and also satisfy the intellectual
> property division's requirements.
> Some comments
> 1. The termination clause is there mainly to limit the damage to AT&T if
> some 3rd party shows up and claims we've infringed on a patent we never
> heard about and now we owe millions in damages. It will be interesting
> to see if other deep-pockets companies that rely on open source run into
> similar problems.
> I am not sure the problem goes away for other licenses just because they
> don't have termination clauses.
> 2. The "monitor our website" thing is the same. We don't really have
> any way of checking how often you do this, do we ? I don't recall
> saying at what intervals you need to do this. But if something goes
> wrong with the license for the same reason as above, we need to be
> 3. It is false that we require licensees to enforce the license on 3rd
> parties to whom they transmit the code. However they must transfer the
> code in such a way that it is still licensed. Otherwise they are
> transmitting unlicensed = illegal copies. Since the license is
> transmitted as a file somewhere in the code (you have no idea how long
> it took to get this simple idea across) this is not any more
> burdensome than having a README or INSTALL file in the code.
> 4. Contact us if you distribute patches - true, we do require the
> sharing of source patches that are released to other 3rd parties.
> The company saw this as the quid pro quo for sharing code. To me
> this is fair since there is not really any other model here of
> profiting from the open source community which has um propelled
> various individuals and startup companies.
> 5. You must adhere to U.S. law including export regulations. Basically
> this applies to any license executed in the United States. Our lawyers
> just wanted to spell it out. We couldn't think of any particular reason
> to deny them this pleasure. It applies to all other licenses in the
> United States as you must know. Outside the U.S. who knows; I hate to
> ask these questions of lawyers in case the speculation heads off in a bad
> direction. Never ask a question to which you don't know the answer etc.
> I am not very familiar with the debian open source guidelines so perhaps you
> could please point me in the right direction.
> The guidelines I see on the debian home page are
> You can install the software on as many machines as you want.
> Any number of people may use the software at one time.
> You can make as many copies of the software as you want and give them to
> whomever you want (free or open redistribution).
> There are no restrictions on modifying the software (except for keeping
> certain notices intact).
> There is no restriction on selling the software.
> I can see where one might interpret sharing the patches as interfering
> somehow with modifying the software. Actually you didn't point out that
> we require sharing the modified source as originalsource+patches which
> seems more onerous to me.
> Otherwise I think it's a pretty nice license for a corporation,
> particularly in the sharing of copyrights and patents. Just look for
> stuff on patents in the Apple and IBM source licenses.
> I rest my case :-)
> Stephen North