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Re: IBM Public License (again)

On 2004-05-12 22:59:18 +0100 Frank Lichtenheld <djpig@debian.org> wrote:

> I just wanted to package a piece of software and saw that it is licensed
> under the IBM Public License[1] (IPL).

Normally, you should include the licence text.

> Since the license included some suspicios clauses I searched the list
> archives about it. The findings were confusing:
> - There are many discussions (e.g. [2], [3]) about the patent
>   clause (§7, paragraph 2) but no consensus on whether it is non-free or not.

To me, it seems clearly non-free because it terminates if there is legal action against IBM about patents "applicable to" some other software. Regardless of what I think about software patents (I hate them), why should use of this software affect independent software I may release? We don't allow licences that try to force disclosure, why should we allow ones that try to force accepting patent infringment by IBM?

It's a bit tricky to map this exactly onto the DFSG, but it seems a "I can't believe this is free software" candidate to me.

> - There are statements that it is free and nobody objected[4]

Your reference is odd. Maybe it is a little quiet because, in the same month as that discussion, a similar licence is already being discussed in http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2001/debian-legal-200112/msg00143.html

The original discussions about the IBM Public License seem to be http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/1999/debian-legal-199905/msg00117.html and http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/1999/debian-legal-199907/msg00012.html

That looks like it was at the height of "Open Source" mania, which may explain why the patent licence termination clause problem was missed. As the OSI famously say, Open Source has no position on whether patents are good or bad.

> - On debian-legal noone ever mentioned the clause (§3, last paragraph)
>   "In addition, each Contributor must identify itself as the originator
>   of its Contribution, if any, in a manner that reasonably allows
>   subsequent Recipients to identify the originator of the Contribution."
>   which seems to fail the dissident test. Has the interpretation
>   of such clauses changed in the last years or am I misunderstanding
>   something?

It depends what is meant by "identify" I guess. At worst, that's a lawyerbomb. Or is there something more wrong there?

My Opinion Only and possibly not of any group I know.
http://www.ttllp.co.uk/ for creative copyleft computing

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