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Re: Is the Nokia Open Source License DFSG compliant?

On Mon, Sep 01, 2003 at 12:55:52AM +1200, Adam Warner wrote:

> I see a problem. Nokia has explicitly excluded royalty-free patent
> grants for many forms of derived works (refer 2.1(d)):

> > 2.1 Nokia Grant. 
> > Subject to the terms of this License, Nokia hereby grants You a world-wide,
> > royalty-free, non-exclusive license, subject to third party intellectual
> > property claims: 
> > a) under copyrights Licensable by Nokia to use, reproduce, modify, display,
> > perform, sublicense and distribute the Original Software (or portions thereof)
> > with or without Modifications, and/or as part of a Larger Work; 
> > b) and under Patents Claims necessarily infringed by the making, using or
> > selling of Original Software, to make, have made, use, practice, sell, and
> > offer for sale, and/or otherwise dispose of the Original Software (or portions
> > thereof). 
> > c) The licenses granted in this Section 2.1(a) and (b) are effective on the
> > date Nokia first distributes Original Software under the terms of this 
> > License. 
> > d) Notwithstanding Section 2.1(b) above, no patent license is granted: 1) for
> > code that You delete from the Original Software; 2) separate from the Original
> > Software; or 3) for infringements caused by: i) the modification of the
> > Original Software or ii) the combination of the Original Software with other
> > software or devices.

> Notwithstanding means in spite of. So in spite of what you just read in
> 2.1(b), if you separate code from the Original Software, modify the
> Original Software or combine the Original Software with other software
> you no longer have a patent licence.

> Nokia will almost certainly have multiple software patents covering the
> Original Software: <http://swpat.ffii.org/players/nokia/index.en.html>

> This is an exercise in smoke and mirrors. You think you've been granted
> useful rights to distribute modified software when it turns out you
> can't exercise those rights without first obtaining a patent licence
> from Nokia.

I feel very strongly that software patents are out of scope for the
DFSG.  There are some DFSG-compliant licenses, such as the GPL, which
require contributors to license their patents freely, but this is not
the same thing.  Is a software license that offers a limited license on
any applicable patents really less free than one which makes no mention
of patents at all?

Now, if we have strong reason to believe that the patent holder is
likely to enforce those patents against someone creating a derivative
work from this software, that may be grounds to keep the software out of
Debian for the protection of our users and redistributors; but that's
not a function of the DFSG, IMHO.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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