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Re: Summary Update: MPL inconclusive, clarifications needed

On Wed, Jun 23, 2004 at 05:18:22PM +0100, MJ Ray wrote:
> > 1. It does not allow derived works to be distributed under the same 
> > terms as
> > the original software (DFSG #3).
> If there are no active patents covering the software, I think clauses 
> 2.1(b) and 2.1(d) are no-ops. If there were active patents, the work 
> would not be free software unless there is a free patent licence 
> issued.

I believe that we've done this part before and concluded that absent
evidence to the contrary, there were no interesting patents.

We've got a lot of licenses like this. This is why we review packages,
not licenses.

I can't remember the last time I saw a package which had interesting
patents, and yet actually had a free license for those patents. It's
extremely rare. Most of the time, patents are held by somebody else
entirely and are not enforced, so we simply ignore them (on the basis
that we can't know which if any apply, and they're probably bogus
anyway). People who are going to release free software do not normally
patent the algorithms they use.

All these patent clauses scattered around in licenses all over the
place are, by and large, useless noise.

> > 3. It restricts court venue, permitting licensors to harass licensees 
> > and
> > effectively revoke the license. (Tentacles of Evil test)
> However, the choice of venue does only apply when one party is in the 
> US and anyway says that the losing party is liable for the costs. I am 
> not sure this is clear-cut and it smacks of wording copied without 
> consideration from the NPL. In any case, it seems not much worse than 
> the usual "place of origin or place of hurt" customs for copyright 
> dispute locations, from how current US practice was described my 
> Nathanael Nerode and apparently confirmed by others. (Apologies for 
> ignoring the interesting discussions of German law, but the choice of 
> venue looks US-only.)
> I didn't find the reference given in the draft summary particularly 
> helpful in understanding why this makes something non-free, and 
> similar terms are in some licences the FSF regards as free copyright 
> licences. Does anyone have some more, please?

Stock objection to choice of venue clauses is that they force people
to travel at their own expense. In essence they attempt to bypass the
legal system by making it prohibitively expensive for somebody to
defend themselves.

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

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