RE: AT&T source code agreement
I agree with your comments, I was just speculating on the possible motives
for including a "send patches back to me or else" type clause in an
otherwise seemingly open/free/libre software release. Although with such a
clause, the "right to distribute" arguably is restricted in a "viral"
manner, such that EVERY downstream person who receives and patches the
software, has to contribute ALL of their distributed patches back upstream
directly to the original author. THAT is the onerous part of it in my
opinion, and many others on the list have pointed this out as well.
Here is the clause which we have been discussing (I believe, if not then
whoops ;-) - see http://www.brics.dk/DSD/implementation.html for the whole
license in context.
4.4. If you prepare a Patch which you distribute to anyone else, you shall:
(a) Contact AT&T, as may be provided on the Website or in a text file
included with the Source Code, and describe for AT&T such Patch; and, (b)
Provide AT&T with a copy of such Patch as directed by AT&T, unless you make
it generally available on your Internet website, in which case, you shall
provide AT&T with the URL of your website and hereby grant to AT&T a
non-exclusive, fully-paid up right to create a hyperlink between your
website and a page associated with the Website.
Of course, in Section 2.1, they note that "AT&T may change the content or
URL of the Website, or remove it from the Internet altogether" - which puts
the burden on the patchers to keep up with AT&T's location & contact
information in order to fulfill the terms of 4.4. This could even function
like a termination clause (if they pull the plug on the website, get rid of
any trace of the software, &/or don't have any contact info, how could you
ever submit patches?).
From: Remco Blaakmeer [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, March 27, 2000 6:12 PM
Subject: Re: AT&T source code agreement
On Thu, 23 Mar 2000, Steve Greenland wrote:
> On 22-Mar-00, 18:08 (CST), Eric Sherrill <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > Thus there could exist a pseudo-secret distro, given only to one's
> > friends or sold to select customers, that the author never finds out
> > about, simply through its obscurity.
> But the value of the changes made to such a distribution are probably
> low. The whole free software development model is based on have lots of
> people use, evaluate, and fix programs.
A pseudo-secret distribution wouldn't stay secret for a long period of
time, anyway. Every customer would have the right to distribute the whole
thing to anybody else (including public ftp sites), effectively making the
changes public. Sooner or later, at least one of the customers will do so
unless they have a very compelling reason (which may not be included in
the license) not to.
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