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Re: [fielding@apache.org: Review of proposed Apache License, version 2.0]

Henning Makholm <henning@makholm.net> writes:

> Scripsit bts@alum.mit.edu (Brian T. Sniffen)
>> And, as it happens, companies do grant free patent licenses: it's
>> common practice when working on a standard which must be approved by a
>> standards body with a RF policy: typically, the patent is licensed for
>> any use which implements that standard.
> A patent license that applies only to implementations of a specific
> standard is not free (as in free speech).

Can you explain this to me?  I see free software, and some external
limits on how you may use certain modifications of it.

>> This is an interesting restriction on modification-and-use: you can
>> modify the program to use the patented technology outside the scope of
>> the standard, but you can't compile and use that code without
>> infringing on the patent.  I *think* the result can be Free Software,
> I think it is clear that it is not.

Well, it's certainly not *clear*, or we wouldn't be having this
discussion.  But I'm entirely convinceable -- go ahead and try?

>> But for the case of Apache, for example, it's enough for every
>> contributing company to grant a universal license to their patented
>> technology for use in web browsers, and for the ASF to refuse
>> contributions to the mainline Apache from anyone who doesn't agree.
> If ASF makes public an intention to include in upstream Apache
> patented code that cannot be used in X servers, desktop calculators or
> Forth compilers, then we can never be sure that the next minor
> upstream release will still be free software. Of course the Debian
> maintainer for apache *may* choose to audit each new upstream release
> to see if non-free patents have crept in, but I would advise moving it
> to non-free right away to avoid future trouble.

There is also no way to be sure that the next minor upstream Emacs
release will still be entirely free software, and Debian has been
bitten by this before.  So why not move everything to non-free which
is not under a "GPL, version 2 only" license?


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