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Re: DTrace licensing

On 5/31/05, Stephen R Laniel <steve@laniels.org> wrote:
> And I'm wondering if anyone knows whether the Linux
> community could incorporate DTrace into our source code.
> Does the CDDL give us the right to do that? And under what
> conditions?

After a quick glance, I would say that the CDDL is almost precisely
the same license as the GPL -- once you strip away the FSF's untruths
surrounding the GPL and construe it under California law -- except for
Section 3.5.  There is at least one illegal provision in common -- the
"license upgrade" foolishness in Section 4, which the CDDL professes
to make non-optional for "Contributors" -- and one major thing that
both do badly, but in different ways (implement the relationship
between multiple upstreams and the licensee, in the CDDL's case via
blanket authority to "sublicense").

The CDDL, at least, implicitly acknowledges something that is true of
the GPL despite the FSF's protestations -- using a software component,
through a published API, from an independent work of authorship, does
not create a cause of action for copyright infringement.  But the CDDL
errs in the opposite direction from the GPL, leaving out almost all
copyright-law lingo.  It grabs at "any new file that contains any part
of the Original Software or previous Modification" without reference
to copyright standards (de minimis, method of operation, etc.),
leaving a licensee to argue that "any part" should be construed to
mean "any copyrightable part".  I don't much like that.

Section 3.5 is an oddity.  At first glance, I read it to quietly
neuter the copyleft character of the CDDL, allowing Sun (or in
principle anyone else) to merge changes from Contributors into
binary-only releases.  On a second reading, I think it allows
arbitrary terms on a binary release to coexist with the CDDL as long
as the binary version comes with the CDDL offer of source code (with
CDDL rights).

Personally, I wouldn't touch code under the CDDL unless I were getting
paid well, because I don't much trust Sun's intentions with regard to
open source.  And I certainly wouldn't venture to mix it with GPL
code.  It's just another case of a pasture labelled "commons" but
surrounded by an electric fence, which could probably have been
avoided if RMS and Eben Moglen hadn't made a career out of hostility
to other software copyright holders.

- Michael

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