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Re: BitTorrent Open Source License (Proposed Changes)

On 8/1/05, Michael K. Edwards <m.k.edwards@gmail.com> wrote:
> Myself, I would no more redistribute a peer-to-peer client offered
> under a license like BitTorrent's than I would play Russian Roulette
> with a loaded Uzi.  But YMMV.

I suppose I should explain that.  I may or may not have used one
BitTorrent client or another for the purpose of obtaining, say, an
Ubuntu LiveCD image over a peer-to-peer network.  But I have not
knowingly consented to _any_ contract terms regarding _any_ such
client, nor have I "distributed" any software bundle that might
contain such a thing to anyone else in any way that I don't consider
to be transfer of a copy, made under someone else's auspices, that I
own under 17 USC 109.

Now that I look at it, it seems blazingly obvious to me that the
BitTorrent protocol, hierarchy, and license are designed as a package
to push the liability for Napster-like usage patterns onto someone,
_anyone_ other than the software authors.  That's prima facie evidence
that they fully expect to have to defend such a suit sooner or later
-- and, judging from a friendly visit to someone near and dear to me
from an IT staffer on whose operations console a BitTorrent client
came up as "eDonkey / eMule", I'm guessing sooner.

I don't lie down in front of oncoming trains, and I don't climb into
bed with people who are daring the RIAA and MPAA to drop lawyerbombs
on their bedrooms.  Especially not in a jurisdiction with interesting
indemnity provisions.  If I bore any legal or fiduciary relationship
to Debian (which I don't), I wouldn't really advise Debian to do so

- Michael

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