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Re: A radical approach to rewriting the DFSG

On Mon, May 31, 2004 at 03:27:06AM +0100, Henning Makholm wrote:
> Scripsit Nathanael Nerode <neroden@twcny.rr.com>
> > I actually don't think the GPL Preamble is entirely legally irrelevant; it
> > would presumably color the legal interpretation of the GPL if a question of
> > interpretation came up.
> Hm, what about "a non-legal piece of text", then?

The word you are seeking is "normative".

> > I would be quite comfortable allowing patent "retaliation" restrictions, but
> > only if they were very carefully tailored.  Specifically, license rights
> > must terminate only if the work is alleged to constitute patent
> > infringement (no action based on unrelated causes), and they must terminate
> > only for the person who alleged that it did (no harming third parties).
> The trouble with patents - in this context - is that we don't really
> have any solid consensus to be codified.
> I'm fairly certain, however, that the *current* consensus is that a
> free license cannot retailiate against patent attacks by revoking
> *copyright* licenses. I'm not quite energetic enough tonight to try to
> track down list referneces, but can anyone remember a case where this
> was *not* the conclusion?

Frankly, I think the whole notion of rolling patent and copyright
licenses into a single document is monumentally stupid and fraught
with trouble. If you need to write a patent license, write a
*distinct* license.

That aside, we've never actually special-cased copyright before in our
phrasing or application of the DFSG, and I don't think we should do
this for patents.

I recommend the following:

Phrase the proposed restriction in a way that is not specific to
patents. Then construct a scenario where you apply it to copyright. Is
it still an acceptable restriction?

  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
 : :' :  http://www.debian.org/ |
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