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Re: IBM Public License (again)

MJ Ray wrote:
> 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?

The main difference between this clause and others debian-legal has
reviewed is that the IBM Public License only terminates the _patent_
licenses granted by contributors if you sue any contributor over a
software patent, while other licenses terminate the _copyright_ license
if you sue over a patent.  This has the effect of a patent
cross-license: "Don't sue us over patents and we won't sue you over
patents."  The only circumstance under which the _copyright_ license
terminates is if you sue claiming that _the program itself_ violates
your software patent.  This seems perfectly reasonable, and I personally
believe this license is a Free Software license.

The point of many Free Software licenses is to preserve the right to
use, copy, modify, and distribute the software they cover.  When you sue
someone over the software, you are trying to stop people from using,
copying, modifying, and distributing the software (or place restrictions
on doing so), so it seems only fair that you should not be allowed to do
so either.

>>- 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?

>From GPL 2a:
>    a) You must cause the modified files to carry prominent notices
>    stating that you changed the files and the date of any change.
If you interpret "stating that you changed the files" as requiring an
identification of who "you" refers to (as in "who exactly changed the
files?"), then the GPL has the same problem.  I suggest that absent
information to the contrary, we should simply interpret this license to
mean that you must label your contributions as coming from you as
opposed to other contributors, and not that you must say exactly who you

I feel very strongly that this is a Free Software license, by both the
spirit and the letter of the DFSG.

- Josh Triplett

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