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Re: DFSG Freeness of Patent Reciprocity Clauses

I was asked on IRC to contribute to this thread, so I will.  :)

On Sat, Jan 03, 2004 at 12:52:34PM -0500, Anthony DeRobertis wrote:
> We must look at the entire freeness of a work, not just the copyright 
> freeness.
> However, I think patent revoking clauses that are along the lines of:
> 	We won't sue you for patent infringement over your use of this
> 	software, provided you don't sue us for patent infringement on
> 	our use of this software. [0]
> are fine. Note that clauses along those lines have the wonderful effect 
> of vanishing if, when, and where software patents are not valid.
> [0] Please take this with some common sense, not legal sense.

On Fri, Jan 02, 2004 at 08:13:43PM +0000, MJ Ray wrote:
> My opinion is that patent termination clauses must only affect patent 
> grant clauses of the same covered work. Terminating all patent grants 
> for any action, or terminating copyright grants for patent action are 
> extra restrictions. Also, I find it useful to consider the effect on a 
> saner place that has no patents for software. If licensees there are 
> affected by the patent clauses, something is probably wrong.

I concur with the above remarks of Anthony and MJ.

On Sat, Jan 03, 2004 at 12:52:34PM -0500, Anthony DeRobertis wrote:
> The IBM one seems too broad as well, but as long as IBM is not actively 
> enforcing patents on the software, our policy is to ignore patents that 
> may exist. So we can still treat it as free.

I am not at all sure that it is wise to give non-DFSG-freeness a pass on
these grounds.  IBM does, at present, have litigation pending enforcing
parts of its patent portfolio, notably in the SCO case.  That SCO is a
detestable entity is not the point.

I think it would be wise to review our toleration of this clause of the
IBM Public License.

Has Apache put this new license of theirs into production yet?  Once
they have, it might be a good time to try to organize the community in
an effort to persuade IBM to dial back the aggression in its patent
termination clause.  IBM is clearly quite capable of emptying both
barrels of the patent gun into the chests of entities who aggravate it
without opening the IBMPL's box of shells.

G. Branden Robinson                |     Q: How does a Unix guru have sex?
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     A: unzip;strip;touch;finger;mount;
branden@debian.org                 |        fsck;more;yes;fsck;fsck;fsck;
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |        umount;sleep

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