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Re: AROS License DFSG ok?

Steve Langasek <vorlon@debian.org> writes:

> The reality is that we do *not* require authors to extend us a license to
> patents as part of their software license in order to consider it free.  We
> merely opt not to distribute software that's covered by patents that are
> actively being enforced.  The current patent regime is sufficiently broken,
> and so much inanely trivial activity is covered by patents, that *asking*
> people for patent licenses really is a slippery slope that we don't want to
> start down.

I think there are more points on this spectrum than you imply.  For
example, we currently treat as free those who distribute software
covered by patents but ignore them -- their own patents or those of
others.  We do *not* treat as free software covered by actively
enforced patents, those that are not ignored.

This is perhaps something in between: someone who doesn't ignore
patents, who does enforce them, but who claims to have a free way of
doing so.

We would not accept that way as free if applied to copyrights -- a
license that said "BSD, but if you sue any copyright holder for
copyright infringement you lose all rights" would not be Free.  In
general, I think these booby-trap clauses are bad policy.  In
specific, I think either the software was free without them or it
cannot be free with them.  We would not normally regard software
containing a technique covered by an enforced patent as free.  So this
isn't free.


Brian Sniffen                                       bts@alum.mit.edu

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