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Re: license opinion sought

On Saturday, July 6, 2002, at 01:52 , Henning Makholm wrote:

Scripsit Ian Zimmerman <itz@speakeasy.org>

I am itching to package PolyML, a relatively lightweight, standard
conformant ML implementation with some unique features (such as a
persistent store).  But IANAL, so I can't make sense of its license.
It's not just that I don't know if it's DFSG; I simply don't know
_what_ it allows/prohibits.

the meaning of which is indeed hard to penetrate. But after three or
four readings it seems to mean that someone who modifies the code MUST
send the modifications back to the original author (who then promises
to further distribute them to everyone else). Which is non-DFSG-free.

That's basically it. The intention is to balance two, potentially conflicting, requirements. 1. To enable commercial organisations to develop applications using Poly/ML and to distribute them subject to their own licence terms and charge for them. It's often the case that these applications come in the form of libraries and include access to the Poly/ML compiler. 2. To ensure that enhancements to Poly/ML itself, such as ports to new hardware/operating systems, improved garbage collection or access to new operating system features are made available to everyone and not regarded as one company's intellectual property. To do this the licence distinguishes modifications which require access to the existing source code from code written in ML. Doing this in a way which is legally water tight isn't easy and so the terms of the licence may not be obvious to a non-lawyer.

I'm happy to see Poly/ML widely distributed and used so if that can be done subject to the existing licence then that would be fine. I'm not in a position to change the existing licence but if I can help in any other way then please let me know.

David Matthews

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