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Re: IBM Public License (again)

MJ Ray wrote:
> On 2004-05-13 18:09:47 +0100 Josh Triplett <josh.trip@verizon.net> wrote:
>> MJ Ray wrote:
>>> Why should this software's licence, not directly involved in the cases
>>> above, terminate?
>> This software's license doesn't terminate.  The patent license from all
>> of the software's contributors not to sue you over patents terminates.
> I already wrote I'm only considering the patent licence, so let's drop
> the wording defence. We agree that the patent licence terminates.
> Therefore, the patent licence is non-free.

We agree that the patent license terminates, but I don't agree that the
conditions for termination make the license non-free.

Consider what we would say if we were explaining why debian-legal ruled
this license non-free: "Well, it doesn't allow you to sue the people who
wrote the software and still keep the right to distribute the software."
 As for the possibility that the licensor sues you and you want to
counter-sue using a software patent, consider that without the patent
license termination clause, you could sue the licensor over a software
patent and they couldn't use their patents to defend themselves.  The
only useful purpose for patents in Free Software is to keep from being
sued by other patent holders.

Finally, I think the GPL would have the same effect with respect to
software patents.  If you use a software patent to sue about a piece of
GPLed software, you are attempting to take away the right to
use/copy/modify/distribute that software under the conditions of the
GPL.  Since this would mean only people who have a patent license from
you can use/copy/modify/distribute the software, you cannot satisfy the
terms of the GPL (which require you to grant that right to everyone who
has a copy), so you lose the right to distribute the software under GPL
clause 7.

>> A license that gives no indication about patents at all would give you
>> fewer rights than this license
> Sure, but a patent licence might not be needed because there are no
> patents covering the software. If there are patents covering it, then
> having no patent licence => non-free.

No.  If there are patents covering it, and those patents are valid, and
those patents are actively being enforced, and there is no patent
license, then the software should go in non-free.  Otherwise, it can go
in main unless those conditions change.

Most of the software in Debian is probably covered by various patents,
most of them ranging from invalid to ridiculous.  In general, we don't
actively search out patents that affect software, because it would
consume all the time of every developer in Debian, and because patent
liability increases if you knowingly infringe a patent.  I believe we
should apply the same procedure here.

> Can we reasonably expect that anyone licensing us some patents in order
> to use their software has such patents? If not, why don't they declare
> that instead of licensing a nothing to us?

Legalistic licensors covering all their bases, or companies that hold so
many patents that it would be difficult to search them all to determine
what to license.

- Josh Triplett

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