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Re: license of smapi

On 2000-06-09 at 13:06 +0200, Henning Makholm wrote:

> Scripsit Mike Bilow <mikebw@colossus.bilow.com>
> > > > 3) If you modify this code, you must keep the message format compatible.
> > > That is also non-free.
> > I disagree here.  Dudley is trying to prevent people from making
> > proprietary "embrace and extend" changes to the message format.
> Yeah, that's also what Sun is saying each time they pull this one.
> I'll leave open whether this should be attributed to malice or
> thoughtlessnes, but I'd like to point out at least two adverse
> effects:

I misunderstood the license in my earlier response; you are correct that
this is non-free.  The issue has to do with defining "message format."

> It is OK if the license requires me to document what I changed
> if I give my changed code to someone else who also needs to solve
> my new problem - but that is different from the clause above,
> which says that I must not change the data structures, full stop.

The main issue is that you are not allowed to call something "Fidonet
Technology Networking" or "Fidonet compatible" unless it complies with
certain specifications for data structures.  This is essentially the same
situation as applies to any protocol, including those applicable to
numerous protocols implemented in Linux, such as Ethernet.  If a piece of
software implements FTN protocols, then it does so pursuant to an equal
access license and must honor its terms.  Fidonet does not care what
private parties do among themselves, but protects public use of its name.

However, the license here relates to the data structures on disk, not to
interaction between systems.  As a result, it is entirely outside the
concern of Fidonet protocols proper, regardless of any other issues.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: I speak only for myself here, not for the Fidonet
Technical Standards Committee.

-- Mike

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