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Re: Response to the j2se licencing concerns



On Sat, Oct 13, 2001 at 10:38:07PM -0700, Stephen Zander wrote:
> Proof by counter example.  This is from the xfree86 licences:
> 
>   2.4  GLX Public License
> 
>   GLX PUBLIC LICENSE (Version 1.0 (2/11/99)) ("License")
> 
>     3. Redistribution in Executable Form. The notice set forth in
>     Exhibit A must be conspicuously included in any notice in an
>     executable version of Subject Software, related documentation or
>     collateral in which Recipient describes the user's rights relating
>     to the Subject Software. Recipient may distribute the executable
>     version of Subject Software under a license of Recipient's choice,
>     which may contain terms different from this License, provided that
>     (i) Recipient is in compliance with the terms of this License, and
>     (ii) the license terms include this Section 3 and Sections 4, 7,
>     8, 10, 12 and 13 of this License, which terms may not be modified
>     or superseded by any other terms of such license. If Recipient
>     distributes the executable version under a different license
>     Recipient must make it absolutely clear that any terms which
>     differ from this License are offered by Recipient alone, not by
>     SGI.  Recipient hereby agrees to indemnify SGI for any liability
>     incurred by SGI as a result of any such terms Recipient offers.
> 
> Specifically, the last sentence requires Debian to indemnify SGI
> against changes to their code if they in any way alter the licence
> terms.  Before Branden jumps down my throat, I'm not suggesting that
> he or anyone has done so, but historic behaviour is no guide to
> future performance.

Just because a particular license exists in one of my packages --
especially in the case of XFree86, which is huge and contains code from
many sources -- doesn't mean I approve of it.

This license made me uncomfortable from the first time I read it.

IMO the last sentence of the above-quoted clause may very well be
DFSG-unfree...in which case the code licensed under it should be yanked.

It may be necessary to call attention to this license in the community,
and call upon SGI to rectify the problem.

If the last sentence said,

"Recipient hereby agrees to hold SGI harmless for any liability incurred
as a result of any such terms Recipient offers."

I wouldn't have a problem with it.  I realize it's not exactly the same
thing, but it's just not fair to ask Free Software developers to pay
SGI's legal bills if some nutty third party comes along and sues SGI
because somebody included GLX into, say, a GPL'ed work.

Another alternative would be to ask for an alternative version of the
GLX Public License that doesn't permit relicensing of executable code
when divorced from source code.  Free Software developers don't care to
distribute binaries without source in the first place, so it occurs to
me that the above clause is really intended to target people who
incorporate GLX into a proprietary implementation.

I have no idea how XFree86 might feel about this.  AFAICT both the
existing GLX license and the one I propose stray pretty far afield of
their "BSD/MIT terms only" policy.  But that's XFree86's call to make;
if Debian can get a variant of the GLX license that eliminates the
freedom to take the code proprietary in exchange for not having to pay
SGI's lawyers in the event they get sued by some loon, that's DFSG-free
and sounds good to me.  XFree86 can use the license it wants, and Debian
can use the license we want.  That's the beauty of dual-licensing.

-- 
G. Branden Robinson                |     It's not a matter of alienating
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     authors.  They have every right to
branden@debian.org                 |     license their software however we
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |     like.  -- Craig Sanders

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