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Re: Adobe open source license -- is this licence free?

On Wed, Jan 25, 2006 at 07:32:56PM -0500, Raul Miller wrote:
> On 1/25/06, Francesco Poli <frx@firenze.linux.it> wrote:
> > > Any dispute  arising out of or
> > > related to this Agreement shall be brought in the courts of  Santa
> > > Clara County, California, USA.

> > This is a choice of venue and is considered non-free by many
> > debian-legal contributors (including me...).

> And some of us think it's reasonable.

> If Adobe is going to take legal action against someone else,
> they'll have to deal with the jurisdiction(s) where this someone
> else has a presence.

> There's some benefit to Adobe if that jurisdiction is willing to turn
> control of the case to the california courts, but that doesn't seem
> to have any direct relevance on software freedom.  It's not like
> there are all that many things for Adobe to be taking action
> against someone else on here.

Have you never heard of the concept of a SLAPP suit?  The difference in cost
to a corporation like Adobe with a standing legal team between me suing them
in their home court and me suing them in my home court is negligible.  The
difference in cost to *me* between Adobe suing *me* in my home court vs.
their home court is *not* negligible.  The difference in cost to Adobe
between bringing harrassment suits against 200 mirror operators separately
in their respective jurisdictions, and bringing one suit against all two
hundred in Adobe's home jurisdiction is *also* not negligible.

Frankly, I find it amazing that even when such clauses are advanced by a
corporation like Adobe, who has been a veritable *poster child* for
corporate hostility to Free Software and the concept of a liberal IP regime,
there are still people who don't get that this additional exposure is a
loaded gun.

> The big deal here is that if someone sues Adobe, Adobe
> doesn't have to incur huge legal fees defending themselves.
> Since it's free software, why would they want to?

No, the big deal is about the risks *I* incur.  Free Software isn't about
making corporations feel good about giving their work away, it's not about
giving them a vehicle for growing their company's mindshare, and it sure as
hell isn't about seeing how many different ropes we can give copyright
holders within the letter of the DFSG before one of them decides to hang us.
It's about serving the needs of the *users* (being all of us) so that we're
free to use, create, modify, and distribute.  I don't see how a choice of
venue clause can be accepted as "free" -- I certainly don't feel free
reading it, and I wouldn't feel free exercising any of the usual Free
Software rights under such a license.  It may be that this doesn't follow
directly from the DFSG, but if that's the case I believe it's an argument
for fixing the DFSG, *not* for accepting as free a license that I would
personally be wary of accepting out of fear of harrassing lawsuits the
moment Adobe changed its mind about Free Software.

If as Nathanael points out the clause were rewritten to be strictly
defensive, I would have no problem with it; but that's definitely not what
we have here today.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
vorlon@debian.org                                   http://www.debian.org/

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