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Re: BitTorrent Open Source License (Proposed Changes)

On Sat, Jul 30, 2005 at 05:20:40PM -0700, Sean Kellogg wrote:
> On Saturday 30 July 2005 04:38 pm, Andrew Suffield wrote:
> > 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
> > whole).
> >
> > 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.
> I can sue 
> you, right now, right here in my home State of Washington for any spurious 
> claim I so deem.  I don't need a choice of venue clause to do that.

That's your own US-law perversion; it doesn't affect me, since I
neither live in the US nor have any intention to ever set foot in the
country. I'm well aware of it and I simply don't care about
it. Claiming that a license provision is okay because it's no worse
than base US law is offensive, at best.

> > As best I can tell, the choice of law clauses here are extremely
> > right-wing but not actually favorable to either party.
> Where the hell do you get off calling the U.S. Civ Pro rules "extremely 
> right-wing"?

Aside from the fact that all US law is pretty right-wing from the
perspective of those of us who live in the free world (especially
socialist countries like mine), they've added loser-pays, excluded
jury trials, and overridden bias-against-licensor. That sounds
right-wing to me.

Heck, this whole concept of "locking down the details of the process"
is a right-wing one. This is from

    * Fair or moral outcomes (left) versus fair and correct processes
      (right). All classic liberalism is process-based, the free
      market is the best example. Robert Nozick is one of the 20th
      century theorists who emphasised this distinction between
      "historical" and "end-result" principles (see Anarchy, State,
      and Utopia, New York, 1974, pp. 153-155). Among the politicians
      who support this distinction is Australian Labor Party ex-leader
      Mark Latham.

> > > 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 has determined that clauses of the GPL are non-free?  That's 
> outrageous.

Deal with it, there's all sorts of ways to abuse the GPL such that it
becomes non-free. Reiser would be one of the more notorious cases. I
don't believe there are any licenses so simple that they haven't been
abused by somebody to the point of being non-free, except maybe the
do-whatever-the-fuck-you-want license.

> Especially the line about complex licenses being 
> done by a lawyer.  What exactly do you think I am?

An undergrad law student. Letting law undergrads write licenses is at
least as bad as letting CS undergrads write code (and CS students
don't have to undergo further training before they can practice). And
lawyers who've just passed their vocational qualification don't
normally get allowed to write important license/contract text by the
practice they join, until they've acquired a considerable amount of

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