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Re: FilterProxy and DFSG

Bob McElrath said:
> Sam TH [sam@uchicago.edu] wrote:
> > On Tue, Mar 13, 2001 at 01:35:14PM +0200, Richard Braakman wrote:
> I do not think Debian should be making assessments of the legality of
> other people's licenses, unless it wants to hire teams of lawyers to
> pour through them.  Is anyone participating in this a lawyer?

I'm not a lawyer, but to a certain extent, Debian does need to be 
concerned with legality.  If it's not legal to distribute the SW, we 
shouldn't / can't.
> The free/non-free distinction should go simply along the lines of
> "accepted licenses" as listed by Debian, the FSF, or the OSI.  As such,
> I think FilterProxy should be considered non-free (as it stands).

Actually, the assessment is based on DFSG, not "accepted license"
> So...I've decided to remove the usage restrictions, and just put a
> little rant in the README about it instead.  However, there is another
> more important reason that I wrote that license, that must be addressed
> first.
> I need to ensure that I am legally protected from "contributory
> copyright infringement".  That is, let's say some large ISP decides to
> deploy FilterProxy for all their customers, filtering their ads.  Let's
> say some large advertiser gets irked that their ads are not reaching the
> ISP's customers.  In essence, FilterProxy is violating the copyright on
> the HTML that passes through it.  This is why I wanted to restrict the
> usage of FilterProxy to individuals that have knowledge of the filtering
> and give consent.  Then it should fall under "fair use" of the
> copyrighted HTML.  (just as marking in a book you bought or ripping out
> pages is legal)  Large advertiser then sues *me* for contributory
> copyright infringement.  (if it can happen to Napster...)  Filtering
> proxies aren't large enough to be on their radar yet, but they might be,
> someday.

So if I sell a knife, I should be responsible that someone uses it to kill 
someone else?  If I sell a photocopier, I'm responsible that someone used 
it to make illegal copies of a book for sale?

I keep hearing this argument.  The answer is to point out that FilterProxy 
has legitimate uses, and you disclaim all warrantee (like the GPL does).  
You cannot be held responsible for someone using your tool to perform an 
illegal action (or should not).  Napster case is a little different, in 
that the service they provide (as opposed to SW) is believed to be used 
mainly for illegal swapping of copyrighted music.  I will also point out 
that, so far, Napster has been strictly in the preliminary phases, the 
court hearings actually haven't happened yet.

> It would appear that the NO WARRANTY sections of the GPL (11 and 12)
> offer no protection to the software's copyright holder for illegal acts
> performed by users of the software, using the software.
> Any suggestions on this?

Yep.  That the No Warranty clause does protect, because someone using your 
tool for illegal acts is performing illegal acts.  Also be careful on 
stating "don't use to do X because it's illegal" is that the law changes 
by geography and time.  Many licenses I've seen have boiler-plate about 
not being able to sell / give the SW to non-residents of the US, due to 
export restrictions.  Of course a) the restrictions have been eased, and 
b) that means a frenchman who has the software can't give it to his 
neighbor without US gov't approval.  Neither of which matter for purposes 
of the 

Bottom line is that the law is the law, contracts don't modify it 
(remember that a contract must be for a legal purpose).  Also note that, 
without all elements of a contract, it could be argued that they didn't 
grant you that immunity, because they haven't agreed to the contract.

Best bet is to ask politely, deny all warranty (like the GPL does), possibly
 remind them they are responsible for following the law, and 
fight for sane laws.


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