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Re: PennMUSH license concerns.

On Sun, Sep 21, 2003 at 11:41:52PM -0600, Joel Baker wrote:
> See above; the concern is not over any specific piece of code (in that the
> only ones I can point to, I'm fairly sure the license can be clarified
> for), but in whether debian-legal is willing to accept the statements of
> (in particular) Lydia Leong and David Passmore on the matter, since they
> can be demonstrated as false in at least one circumstance, today.
> In fairness, in terms of *probability*, any random bit of code taken from
> 2.2.5 is *likely* to be under an acceptable license, stipulating that the
> 2.0 relicense is acceptable (which I'm not contradicting); the 3.x code,
> even moreso (since much of the reason 2.2.5 was released had to do with
> updates Unoff 1 made after a long period of issues with the maintenence of
> the official 2.2 series, but the 3.x series rewrote a significant amount of
> code). Unless PennMUSH happened to get a poison pill, it wouldn't actually
> have any problems (unlike TinyMUSH 3.x, which, last I looked, still did).
> To be honest, I have my doubts as to whether it would even be possible to
> track down every possible incidence, and I suspect that the only practical
> solution, given the code history, would be to take a "solve problems as
> they appear" approach - if someone asserts an issue, either get them to
> relicense the code, or have upstream replace the code.
> If debian-legal is comfortable with that approach, I'm certainly happy to
> bribe, cajole, and nerf-bat Mr. Grizzard until he agrees to a relicense
> under suitable terms, and thus resolve the only outstanding issue I have
> concrete evidence of (this d-l decision would presumably also apply to the
> ITP for TinyMUSH 3, as well).

In my opinion, we have made a reasonable and good-faith effort to verify
the licensing.  If the issue has been researched, and no one can point
to any explicit license problems, then that should be sufficient.

It is not common practice in the free software community to have
contributors swear out an affidavit regarding the copyright ancestry of
their contributions.

If some copyright holder somwhere feels his privileges are being
infringed, then the onus is on them to bring the issue to our attention.
We have been anything but careless.  I do not think it is reasonable to
expect the Debian Project or the other PennMUSH copyright holders to go
to lengths usually reserved for tracking down wanted criminals to locate
other copyright holders whose intentions can be reasonably conjectured.

Note the contrast between this situation and the Sun RPC license issue,
where the explicit terms of the only known license under which the code
has been distributed are clearly non-DFSG-free, but we're keeping the
code in main based on the hearsay testimony of unknown individuals
attesting to a "clarification" whose terms are themselves unknown.

But hey, if that's good enough for the Release Manager and Project
Leader, I guess it should be good enough for the rest of us, right?

G. Branden Robinson                |     Human beings rarely imagine a god
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     that behaves any better than a
branden@debian.org                 |     spoiled child.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |     -- Robert Heinlein

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