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Re: The BitTorrent Open Source License

Josselin Mouette wrote:
> BitTorrent 4.0 is distributed under a new license of its own.
> Section 6 of the preamble states:
> 6.      If you sublicense the Licensed Product or Derivative Works, you
> may charge fees for warranty or support, or for accepting indemnity or
> liability obligations to your customers.  You cannot charge for the
> Source Code.
> This looks non-free, but it doesn't seem to be backed by the actual
> terms of the license.
> There is also an anti-patent clause, but it only applies to the licensed
> software itself.

The patent clause does indeed look fine, and is the ideal form of such a
clause: it only activates if you sue saying the software itself violates
a patent, and it only terminates the rights granted by the people you sue.

As you said, the clause above isn't actually reflected in the license
text, and the Preamble states that "this Preamble is not a part of this
license. The legal effect of this License is dependent only upon the
terms of the License and not this Preamble.", so while it is confusing,
it isn't relevant to Freeness.

The issues I see related to Freeness are:

* The requirement to keep source code available for 12 months, even if
you are no longer distributing the binary, and even if you distributed
the source code along with the binary.

* The requirement to maintain a LEGAL file.

* The choice of venue clause.

I also have a suggestion for how to deal with these issues.  Given that
the license change is recent (two days ago), why don't we just point out
to upstream that the license is not GPL-compatible, which would pose a
problem for anyone building GPLed frontends to BitTorrent or other
software that builds on BitTorrent (such software already exists), and
request that he dual-license BitTorrent under this license and the GPL?
 We could point out that Mozilla, previously under the MPL, decided to
dual-license (and later tri-license) for the same reason.  This will
prevent us from having to go into detail on these license issues, which
are harder to explain (and harder to convince people that they aren't
just Debian ranting, which seems to be a far-too-common opinion :( ).

- Josh Triplett

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