[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: BitTorrent Open Source License (Proposed Changes)

On Sat, Jul 30, 2005 at 08:55:33AM -0700, Sean Kellogg wrote:
> Hmm...  Personally, I'm not convinced that venue clauses are non-free.  But if 
> they are willing to drop a venue requirement, that's great for users of 
> Debian!  I'm surprised that folks on this list are comfortable with such 
> strong choice-of-law provisions.  Again, I don't believe such clauses are 
> non-free, but I believe I've heard the argument made before.  (A license has 
> got to be interpreted under laws somewhere...  might as well establish the 
> laws prior to the agreement instead of fighting it out in court.)

The issue isn't precisely the construct, but rather writing the
license in such a way as to massively and unfairly benefit the license
holder at the expense of the user - that's hardly in the spirit of a
free license. The point of a free license, after all, is to *give*
stuff away. Not to extract payment in some form. (To forestall the
inevitable trolls: the GPL adds restrictions in order to directly
further the cause of giving stuff away, not to benefit the licensor,
except insofar as he benefits from the improvements to society as a

Choice of law provisions are thusly fine so long as they don't choose
laws that strongly favour the license holder. Locations with properly
functioning justice systems are generally okay. Crazy tinpot
dictatorships probably aren't. Choice of venue clauses are a problem
because being forced to travel halfway around the world to defend
yourself against an entirely spurious claim is hardly reasonable, and
so they are essentially a license to harass the user at whim. Like the
pet-a-cat license, only worse.

As best I can tell, the choice of law clauses here are extremely
right-wing but not actually favorable to either party.

> What's the concern here?  The GPL only requires that I provide a source 
> distribution method for three years (clause 3(b))

We don't consider clauses 3b or 3c to be free. We require distribution
under 3a to be possible, in which case the license is free (since the
licensee can use 3a and therefore be exempt from the others). I
believe this was actually an issue on one occasion, although I don't
recall the details. (Obviously, the GPL doesn't require you provide
source for three years).

  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
 : :' :  http://www.debian.org/ |
 `. `'                          |
   `-             -><-          |

Attachment: signature.asc
Description: Digital signature

Reply to: