Re: DFSG Freeness of Patent Reciprocity Clauses
Brian T. Sniffen wrote:
Nathanael Nerode wrote:
Brian Sniffen wrote:
Would the following be considered Free by anybody here?
If You institute litigation against any entity (including a
cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit) alleging that the Work
or a Contribution incorporated within the Work constitutes direct
or contributory copyright infringement, then any licenses
granted to You under this License for that Work shall terminate as
of the date such litigation is filed.
Yep, I think it's Free, and here's why.
If you allege that the Work contains copyright violations, you are
implicitly alleging that the license for the Work does not grant a
Not at all -- it grants a perfectly valid license to some of the work,
but part of the work is mine. As a result, I'm the *only* person who
can legally copy the work. For example, consider that I'm RBN, a large
Utah-based software company (formerly Volcano, formerly RBN).
If I point out that the Linux kernel contains some of my copyrighted
code, then all the licenses on others' code (BSD, GPL, etc) certainly
permit me to copy that code (providing I comply with their other
restrictions, of course -- so I can copy the code in a Free way).
Yes. But I think that the restriction doesn't actually stop that!
Case 1. (The likely case.) The other people's code reasonably qualifies
as *separate works*, and are actually covered by individual licenses.
In this case, the revocation of the license to use the combined work
(containing your code) does not limit your ability to use the separate
works in any way.
Case 2. The other people's code is totally inseparable from your code
and does not qualify as a separate work. In this case, the license to
the other people's code gives nothing to anyone but you! This is almost
certainly a total subversion of the intention of the other people; if
you are allowed to continue distributing their code (when you have
prohibited anyone else from doing so), you have effectively taken code
intended to be Free and made it proprietary to you; you've abused the
law to steal other people's work.
Accordingly, I think this sort of restriction is really no more
restrictive than the GPL's requirement that you must be able to satisfy
*both* the GPL *and* any other legal requirements, or you can't
distribute at all.
If you can convince me that I'm wrong about what the restriction would
prohibit, then I'll agree with you. :-)
cannot do so without a license grant from me, so I sue to stop them.
Accordingly, you shouldn't be using the Work under that license *anyway*
(you believe that the license is invalid!). Explicitly revoking the
licenses revokes only those rights you have claimed that you don't have.
No, it punishes me for attempting to enforce my legal rights. I never
forfeited my claim to those rights, certainly not by suing to enforce
Read my argument again; you seem to have missed the point.
Explicitly revoking the licenses imposes a non-Free restriction
on what I can do.
The license revocation only applies to the license on a Work containing
your copyrighted code. (And it *must* be that narrow in order to be
Free, in my opinion. If you convince me that the clause as you framed
it is *not* that narrow, you will have convinced me.)
You may take works not containing your copyrighted code (perhaps a very
simple process), and use them under their licenses. This may in fact
allow you to recreate something approximating the combined Work. Or it
How about this clause:
"If you contend in a court of law that this License does not grant
anyone a valid license to copy and distribute this Work, then this
License shall not grant *you* a license to copy and distribute this Work."
Would you say that that was a non-Free restriction? I believe that the
narrow reciprocity clauses are a subset of that. (If they *aren't*,
convince me that they aren't, and I'll agree with you.)