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Re: Debian Legal summary of the X-Oz License

On Tue, Mar 02, 2004 at 04:19:32PM -0800, Ben Reser wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 02, 2004 at 04:37:32PM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> > >        3. The end-user documentation included with the redistribution, if
> > >           any, must include the following acknowledgment:
> > > 
> > >             "This product includes software developed by X-Oz Technologies
> > >              (http://www.x-oz.com/)."
> > > 
> > >           Alternately, this acknowledgment may appear in the software itself,
> > >           if and wherever such third-party acknowledgments normally appear.
> I'd like to remind everyone this is directly taken from the Apache 1.1
> license.

Okay.  How is that relevant?


> Why are these questions not being asked also about the Apache license as
> well?

Because the subject of this thread is the X-Oz license?  Because as far
as I know, the first time those questions had been asked in precisely
that form was when I wrote them earlier today?  (I hereby attest that
the message to which you replied was wholly of my own authorship, except
where I explicitly quoted others -- i.e., I didn't plagiarize someone's
"list of questions to ask about licenses" or something like that).

> Why haven't they been asked before?

Probably, some of them have.  In any case, I think the answer to your
question is that debian-legal is a fairly informal, organic body that
has only over the past year to year-and-a-half started to get more
formal about how it handles licensing issues for the Project.

This list, in the sense of the kind of traffic and discussion you see on
it, didn't spring out of the forehead of Zeus.  It sort of accreted and
evolved, as its contributors gained experience.

> How is this organizations use of language that we've used for several
> years any more questionable than the ASFs?

Why do you infer that the ASF's interpretation of the same language
should *not* be questioned?

The X-Oz license is new (well, if 6 months old or so, is "new", anyway).
Is there some deadline we should know about, after which a license must
be treated as DFSG-free by default no matter what its actual terms?

> > >        4. Except as contained in this notice, the name of X-Oz Technologies
> > >           shall not be used in advertising or otherwise to promote the sale,
> > >           use or other dealings in this Software without prior written
> > >           authorization from X-Oz Technologies.
> This clause also isn't new.  It's already in the existing X licenses.

Yes; the X.Org Foundation is aware of that, and last I checked, someone
was going to bring it up with the Open Group.

While this happened on the public xorg_foundation mailing list, feel
free to poke me for a status update in a couple of weeks if you don't
hear anything, as I should be keeping an eye on it.

> > 6) What does "or otherwise" mean?  It would seem to include all forms of
> > communication other than advertising (examples include magazine reviews,
> > blog postings, and so forth).
> >
> > 7) What does "or other dealings" mean?  It would seem to include all
> > activities that can be promoted other than sale or use (examples include
> > charitable donations of copies of the software, or the "cooking" of a
> > CD-ROM with a copy of the software encoded on it in a microwave oven).
> > 
> > 8) As far as the participants on the debian-legal mailing list are
> > aware, there is no jurisdiction in the world in which a right to use the
> > name of a copyright holder for promotional purposes automatically
> > attaches to any copyright license, no matter how liberal its terms.  Can
> > you tell us why X-Oz Technology, Inc., feels this clause is necessary?
> Based upon what I've been told from them directly they included it
> because it had always been there.  They wanted a license that was
> similar to the existing X licenses.

Okay.  Should people not be willing to accept responsibility for the
licenses they apply to their software, even when they write those

Even if a license is formed but cutting-and-pasting language from other
licenses, the "author" under this process is responsible for
understanding and explaining its meaning to potential licensees.  That's
my opinion, anyway.

> I really don't understand why the X-Oz / XFree86 licenses are being
> picked on (and I really think they are being picked on) over these
> license terms.  Other projects use these same terms.  I haven't seen
> anyone suggest Apache or XFree86 under the 1.0 license should be pulled
> because of these problems.  
> Nor has this language ever proved to be a problem so far for these other
> projects.

Failure to be vigilant in the past is a poor justification for failure
to be vigilant now.

I have no problem with using the level of scrutiny I -- and others --
have brought to bear on the X-Oz license to other licenses.  In fact, I
think that would be a good thing.  It cannot hurt the FLOSS community to
get more sophisticated about these things.  That way, we better serve
the interests of our friends who are bored to tears by legal crap and
would rather just be writing and debugging code.

G. Branden Robinson                |     The more ridiculous a belief
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     system, the higher the probability
branden@debian.org                 |     of its success.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |     -- Wayne R. Bartz

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