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Re: Debian Legal summary of the X-Oz License

On Tue, Mar 02, 2004 at 08:28:54PM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> > I'd like to remind everyone this is directly taken from the Apache 1.1
> > license.
> Okay.  How is that relevant?

I thought it was relevent on the basis that Debian had already reviewed
that license.  But on the basis of what you say below perhaps that isn't

> > 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).

Well I didn't mean that you did copy them from someplace else.  I
realize they were tailored to the problems you raised.

My point is that if you've found problems with a particular clause that
is shared by many licenses.  I think we should deal with all of those
licenses.  Not just the new guy on the block.  

Maybe we need something that looks at existing licenses and finds
similarties for us.

> > 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.

That's a fair response.  I guess I expected that licenses were held to
the same level of scrutiny in the past.  Which is why I'm somewhat
aghast that the X-Oz license was so quickly dismissed.  I'd think that a
license that shares clauses with software already in Debian and that
seem to be problematic should be discussed more extensively.

> > 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?

Quite the contrary.  My argument is that if you're questioning this
usage of the language then every use should be called into quesiton.

> 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?

No of course not.  But given the visibility of Apache.  I was working
under the presumption that the license had been carefully looked at.
Maybe I should have made precisely the opposite assumption.

> 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.

Now I'm confused... People knew about the shared clauses with the X.org
and XFree86 1.0 licenses and didn't mention it here?

> > 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
> licenses?
> 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 think that's a fair characterization.  But I have to take some issue
with how this license has been handled.  

Someone asked about the license.  You replied at length.  A few other
people replied with minor comments.  Someone posted a summary.  A few
more comments about the summary.  An updated version of the summary is
written and done.  

However, nobody even thought to talk to the authors.  Why not?  Isn't it
at least worth an attempt to ask them for a clarification?  Until I
contacted them yesterday, they hadn't heard anything about this
discussion.  Am I alone in seeing a problem with this?

> > 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.

Okay, so I've wrongly accussed you of picking on a particular license.
But seeing the strong argument against this license and pretty much not
mentioning the other licenses (excluding XFree86 1.1) it seemed that

Ben Reser <ben@reser.org>

"Conscience is the inner voice which warns us somebody may be looking."
- H.L. Mencken

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