[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Old subject: Patents and hardware implementations

Hi people,

 I'm rehashing an old subject mostly because I'd like to save Branden
 trouble in the near future (how kind of me... nah).

 Back in June 2000, James Treacy asked about the SGI Free Software
 License B.  Go look at the archives if you are interested in the whole
 discussion.  One of the points in that license is that SGI does not
 grant permission to implement patented methods or designs in hardware.
 In other words, if the software contains an implementation of a
 patented device, you are free to use, copy and modify the software as
 *software*, but you are not allowed to use it as a starting point for a
 hardware implementation of the device.  The license is worded a little
 differently, but i think I'm not deviating from the intention.

 It has happened that certain hardware company has granted permission to
 use its patents for a software implementation of a feature that's now
 implemented on a large part of their product line.  The permission they
 granted is software-only.  You cannot use the software implementation
 as a starting point for a hardware one.  Moreover, if you are making a
 hardware device that implements the feature, you have to obtain
 permission from this company.  This particular software is eventually
 going to become part of XFree86.  XFree86 project is not going to have
 *any* problem with it because the terms and conditions are compatible
 with their preferred license.

 My personal opinion is that this is ok.  This does not conflict with
 the DFSG because this is not software we are talking about and until
 now I haven't read a convincing argument that is does indeed relate to
 the "fields of endevour" clause (DFSG 6).  Starting from a very naïve
 position, yes, this is saying "you cannot use this for X", but the
 particular case in question makes it hard to come up with a realistic
 example.  At the time of the original discussion, -legal seemed to
 agree that this is ok (IOW, noone actually said those terms make the
 license non-free).

 To add another twist in the maze, I did upload a package licensed under
 the Free Software B license.  James Troup said to me on IRC that he'd
 think about the license and ask here in case he had any doubts (this
 is, to the best of my recollection, what James said, I apologize
 beforehand if I'm putting words in his mouth).  He never asked, but
 neither got the package installed on the archive.  After some period of
 silence, being the irrational whiner that I am, I just got tired of the
 whole thing and removed the package from the incoming queue, so I can't
 say for sure what his position regarding the issue is.

 So there, let it be archived this time.

Marcelo             | Item 41: Differentiate between inheritance and templates
mmagallo@debian.org |         -- Scott Meyers, Effective C++

Reply to: