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Re: Fwd: figlet license change from Artistic to Clarified Artistic or Artistic 2.0?



Glenn Maynard scripsit:

> Watch out: it only says "if you sue me for patent infringement, you lose
> your license", not "you can't sue me for patent infringement".  

Of course.  I was oversimplifying.

> General (but not unanimous) feeling on d-legal is that choice of venue is
> not free.  (This is another topic that would subvert the thread, though.)

Understood.

> > And even these modest restrictions apply only to the original work,
> > not to any derivative works.
> 
> So what's the point?  Why spend the cost of a longer license (and all
> of the related costs, such as mailing list threads as people struggle
> to comprehend the license :) to say "don't remove the change list",
> if you can still do so if you simply distribute the result under a
> different license?

The AFL's restrictions are intended to protect the licensor and his
original licensees.  Other persons (including said licensees if they
choose to become licensors as well) can undertake whatever obligations
they wish to.

> It seems like a lot of the stuff in this license is essentially optional--it
> says "please do this, but if you don't want to, feel free to use a different
> license"--they're just requests, made in an extremely complicated way.

Not so.  If you are a licensee under the AFL, then the licensor has made
specific, enforceable promises to you.  Not many, but some.
> > Quite right so far as it goes, but contracts have advantages, and are
> > used by most corporate licenses (the MPL is a contract, for example).
> 
> Most corporations do this to place heavily onerous restrictions on users
> that have nothing to do with copyright law, which requires them to use
> contracts.

I was referring to corporate licenses that are OSI-open-source or FSF-free
or both.  (Is there a current list of Debian-free licenses?)

> I don't believe this ability to restrict people in more ways
> is an "advantage", from the perspective of free software.

The "people" being restricted are the licensors.  Again, the AFL is a
unilateral contract: only the licensor makes binding promises.  The licensee
makes no promises.

> The only hint that it might have some validity is that I havn't been able
> to find any statement from the FSF or their councel (eg. Eben Moglen) saying
> that it isn't true, and some googling does show people claiming that
> they've asked about it and received no response--glaring silence is very
> suspicious.

Indeed.  It would certainly be embarrassing if the GPL failed the Tentacles
of Evil test, but I see absolutely no evidence that it passes.  The AFL
definitely passes that particular test: the licensor has no way of revoking his
promises (to distribute source and to warrant the provenance of the source),
because anyone who gets the software can accept the contract, become a
licensee, and enforce the contract.

> However, it seems that a similar possible problem exists with contracts:
> that they're not binding without consideration.  

"Consideration is as much a matter of form as seal."  Any benefit to the
licensee, however slight, constitutes consideration.  A court has to go
out of its way to find that there is no consideration whatever.  (IANAL.)

> It seems to me that the "free software contracts aren't enforcable due to
> lack of consideration" claims are more likely than the nebulous "we're
> not sure, but some people seem to think copyright licenses are revokable"
> claims (at least the contract concern is based in a specific legal principle),

So is the other: that a bare license, *because* it is not a contract, is
revokable.

> But the licensor isn't assured of that, since the "licensor" isn't actually
> forced to give it to him--since he can just use a different license.  It seems
> like this license says "you (the licensor) may bind yourself to give the
> source, but you don't have to", and I'm not seeing the point.

When I release source under the AFL, I have bound myself.  I can't renege unless
I can round up all the copies and destroy them before anyone becomes a licensee.
No one except a person releasing under the AFL is bound.

> In terms of freeness, if Debian is allowed to simply remove the AFL,
> distribute the work under the X11 license and pretend the AFL doesn't exist,
> then it's clearly free, though this implementation is so unusual among free
> software licenses that I wouldn't assume that an author placing his work
> under the AFL agrees with that--in other words, I'd look for confirmation
> from the author that this is what he intended by placing his work under
> it.

I so confirm, at least for FIGlet and TagSoup.

-- 
What is the sound of Perl?  Is it not the       John Cowan
sound of a [Ww]all that people have stopped     jcowan@reutershealth.com
banging their head against?  --Larry            http://www.ccil.org/~cowan



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