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Re: Aspell-en license Once again.

On Wed, 2002-11-06 at 01:12, Walter Landry wrote:
> Similar arguments were made during the KDE-Qt mess.  There weren't any
> authors who were threatening anyone.  I'm really not a big fan of
> hoping someone doesn't sue.  Debian does that for patents because it
> wouldn't be able to function otherwise.  But here we have a clear case
> of something being not freely licensed.  I think the only thing that
> muddies things up is whether those people have the right to restrict
> distribution.  Certainly in the US and Australia they don't, but in
> the EU they might.

The applicability of the Database Directive is only one of the
concerns.  There's also the absence of copyright information and
untraceability of the authors.

The only statement we have from DEC states that DEC has no idea what the
copyright is.  It's followed up by a statement from the linux.words
author that the list is free of copyright.  This is likely reflective of
the concept that word lists can't be copyrighted.  So no, we don't have
a clearly non-free license here just because the words "non-commercial"
showed up.

With Qt/KDE, we knew who the relevant copyright holders were.  Even
though we had a "good faith" statement from them that they wouldn't sue,
they refused to make this clear in the license, making it possible that
someone, somewhere could sue.

Here, we simply don't know, and there's no way to find out.  Further,
it's possible that anyone attempting to make a claim could not provide
adequate proof to their rights at this late date.  In other words, given
the number of blenders the shake's gone through, Joe's going to have a
hard time proving his broccoli is in the mix.

This is a cumulative argument.  By itself, several of these issues might
not be enough, but taken together, they give pretty good assurance that
there's no issue with the DEC list.

> You don't have to assert copyrights in order to keep them.

Right.  Note the "willful" word there.  It's theoretically possible that
someone might make a copyright claim stick, but I don't see how a judge
could claim DEC, Kevin, and/or Debian acted with malice.  This will
limit damage claims.

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