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Re: LZW patented file left in .orig.tar source package?

On Thu, Oct 31, 2002 at 10:11:17AM +0900, GOTO Masanori wrote:
> What do you think about "a patent suddenly forces the charge of use
> retoroactively"?

I'm not sure such a patent license would be legal, unless the original
patent license allowed for such a possible future retroactive change.

Any such allowance would be DFSG-non-free just as a copyright license
with such an allowance would be.

> A patent does not need to claim their condition of permission to use
> and distribute.

That's true.  It's much more difficult to know whether you're infringing
a patent or not than it is to know whether you're infringing a

> We can't decide whether it has ability to become ill-mannered license
> or not at present, so can we decide whether it's DFSG-free or not?

I suggest we take the approach that Linus Torvalds does with the Linux
kernel; assume we're not infringing patents we don't know about.

Once we do know about a patent that may afftect a package in Debian, we
have to do the best we can to make a reasoned guess about the impact.

> I think in general "yes".

If we know a process/algorithm/mathemetical fact is patented, and if we
have a high level of confidence that we have a package in main that
implements that process, then should try to determine whether there is a
license on that patent that would not enroach upon the DFSG-freeness of
the package.

> In only case of copyright holder stated it's DFSG-free, then the
> patent becomes DFSG-free.

You mean if the copyright holder and the patent holder are the same
party?  This would *seem* to be a reasonable assumption on commonsense
grounds, but I'm not sure it's a warranted assumption when it comes to
limiting one's exposure to legal liability.

On other cases, where the copyright holder and patent holder are
different parties, we cannot make such an assumption at all.  Copyright
holder A cannot, in general, make guarantees on behalf of patent holder
B that the copyrighted work is non-infringing on the patent.

G. Branden Robinson                |       The only way to get rid of a
Debian GNU/Linux                   |       temptation is to yield to it.
branden@debian.org                 |       -- Oscar Wilde
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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