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RE: AT&T source code agreement


In my informal opinion, a license closely following the DFSG obviates the
need for any "reciprocality" or "notice" clauses respecting code
modification, such as ATT License Sec. 4.2.  Here's my reasoning.  If
hackers distribute patched versions of a DFSG-compliant code base, then they
must distribute source as well (i.e. no binary-only distros are allowed);
therefore, the author can find out what's changed as easily as anybody else.
In fact, the author can even require that hackers distribute original source
+ patches only, to make the changes even more obvious (but this is not
encouraged); see DFSG #4.  Also, hackers can't restrict the author (here
ATT), or anybody else for that matter, from incorporating a released
hack/patch into their distro if they like it ; see DFSG #1,3,5,6.  Thus Sec.
4.2 is superfluous at best:  the author can just hit Freshmeat/anon. CVS/et
al. like everybody else & read the source/diffs/patches; and overly
restrictive at worst:  it makes the author a special case, contra #5, while
unduly burdening hackers with notifying the author about every little
change.  If they are trying to prevent forking, I think RMS and ESR have
more than covered that area with their arguments.  So why not just strike
the clause?

(Feel free to %s/hackers/coders/g in the above if it makes the suits happier


P.S. Needless to say, standard disclaimers apply, even though I AM a
lawyer - I'm just not being paid by TI or anybody else to be one at the
moment, thus the "inactive status" on my TX bar license.  But I do read a
lot of debian-legal ;-) (If you want my formal opinion as an attorney, let
me know and I'll come out of retirement and re-activate my Texas bar card.
Make me an offer I can't refuse....)

Eric R. Sherrill, WF Software Systems Engineer
Texas Instruments HFAB1 Automation Systems
Stafford, TX 77477-3006

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