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Re: NEW ocaml licence proposal by upstream, will be part of the 3.08.1 release going into sarge.

On Thu, Aug 12, 2004 at 10:44:37AM -0400, Brian Thomas Sniffen wrote:
> Matthew Palmer <mpalmer@debian.org> writes:
> > It would be hard to argue that the licence implies that the patch must be
> > under the QPL, because (a) copyright law in the jurisdictions I'm aware of
> > says nothing about reciprocity of terms of derived works, (b) section 4
> > explicitly states when you must licence your modifications under the QPL, so
> > it's obvious they've thought about it, and (c) 3b says "When modifications
> > to the Software are released under this license", which strongly implies to
> > me that you have a choice as to whether or not to place your modifications
> > under the QPL (unless compelled by section 4).
> I think you've read "under this license" as meaning that I license my
> modifications to others under the QPL.  I read it rather differently:
> I think that says that if I release modifications, and the license
> which allows me to release them is the QPL, then I must make this grant.
> That is, it's not talking about the license under which my changes are
> available to you, but about the license under which I perform the act
> of releasing: "modifications to the software are released under this
> license"

"This license" obviously means the QPL, "under this license" appears to be a
shorthand for "under the terms of this license", as used elsewhere in the
license text.

To get a feel for what the original drafter of the QPL meant, I checked the
Annotations.  Unfortunately, they don't decisively help to make a decision
either way.  What it does say is "This clause makes it possible for
Trolltech to include patches in new versions of Qt", which would tend to
lend itself to your interpretation, but doesn't put the issue quite to bed,
because Trolltech can incorporate my patches into new versions of Qt -- the
free edition at least (yes, I know.  Sophistry at it's finest).

It's certainly an issue of bad wording; if instead of "under this license"
they had said "under the terms of this license", I'd be right.  If they
replaced it with "as permitted by this license", you'd be right.  As it
stands, the Annotations nudge, but I don't think they close the matter
properly.  And they don't help in the useful cases, because Trolltech aren't
the copyright holder on anything that is affected by these discussions, and
hence the annotations aren't real useful.

To use the Luther test on this argument -- I would be more than happy to
stand up in a court and argue that the license does not give the initial
developer an all-permissive licence to my modifications unless I license
them under the QPL.

A question for you (and pretty much orthogonal to which interpretation is
correct for the above point): do you think that the QPL requires patches to
be distributed under the terms of the QPL, or can the licence for
(source-only) distribution of the patch be any licence you choose?

- Matt

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