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Re: Squiz.net Open Source License - is it free?

This is one of the most non-free and poorly written licenses I've seen
pass the list in a long time.

On Fri, Feb 03, 2006 at 11:47:39AM +1100, Andrew Donnellan wrote:
> (a)  You must not introduce any virus, worm, trojan horse or malicious
> code into the Software;

Free Software must allow transforming the software in any way, even ones
which the author considers reprehensible.  Free Software has its own
inherent defenses against such things; it doesn't need to bend arms
legally, too.

> however, this Licence applies, and You must ensure that it continues
> to apply, to each part of the Software (including Modifications of it)
> despite any such distribution or use.

This sounds like it's requiring me to enforce the license, which is

> This Licence does not apply to
> any computer program other than the Software, even if that program is
> distributed along with the Software.

What if it does--eg. I'm packaging two "Squiz.Net" applications side by
side?  This is a poorly drafted version of the GPL's "mere aggregation"

> 1.4 If You distribute all or part of the Software You must do so in
> source code form (regardless of whether you also distribute an object
> code form).

This is very poorly written.  It seems to say "you may not distribute
object form, source code only--regardless of whether you distribute
object code", which is a contradiction.

> 2. Intellectual Property
> 2.1 You agree that Squiz.Net controls all intellectual property rights
> (including copyright) in every aspect of the Software, including
> source code and related documentation.

If this is saying "you acknowledge that we hold copyright on the things
we hold copyright to", then it's a no-op.  Text later in the license
suggests this is not the case.

But it says "agree", and "every aspect of the Software" seems to include
modifications.  It's saying "you agree that we hold copyright to your
modifications".  That's not acceptable.  (In the US, it's also not binding,
since copyright transfer must be made in writing, but I have no idea about
the rest of the world, including including Australia.)

> 2.2 Where Squiz.Net has created source code of Software, we believe
> that it does not infringe another person's copyright, but we make no
> representations as to patent infringement.

The license requires that *we* make representations about patent
infringement, demanding that we represent that we don't know of any.
It's hypocritical to demand that we do so, while explicitly not doing so

> 2.3 It is Your responsibility to investigate and obtain permission
> from the holder of any patent for use of any patent used by the
> Software and to pay any royalties to the patent holder in connection
> with Your use of such a patent. However, to avoid doubt, the rights in

If this is intended as a statement of fact, then it's also a no-op.  If
it's saying "to comply with this copyright license, you must also comply
with patents", then it's not.

> clauses 1.1 and 1.2 include a right to use all relevant patents held
> by Squiz.Net or which are assigned or licensed to Squiz.Net under
> clause 2 of this Licence or under clause 2 of a licence by Squiz.Net
> to another user on the terms of this Licence.

This is the only good thing about this license: an explicit patent

> 2.4 If You alter, modify or add to the Software, You are expected to
> assign all of Your intellectual property rights (including copyright
> and patent rights)  in any Modifications to Squiz.Net including
> copyright in any compilation comprised of any part of the original
> source code of the Software and Your Modifications to the Software. If
> you agree to assign the copyright of Your Modifications, Squiz will
> grant You and every other user of the Software a perpetual,
> world-wide, royalty-free, non-revokable, non-exclusive licence to use
> the Modifications.

If this is a requirement, then it's unacceptable.  I have no idea what
"you are expected" means in a license.  It seems like they're either
making up phraseology as they go along, or like Australian copyrights
are wildly different from anything I've seen.  If they merely mean
"we really want you to do this, but you don't have to", then it's
another no-op.

Note that upstream developers are perfectly free to say "we will not
incorporate any of your modifications into our codebase unless you
sign over the copyright to us".  The FSF does that.

> 2.5 You agree to waive all moral rights that You may have in any
> Modifications You make. You consent to the use of Your Modifications
> by Squiz.Net or any other user under a licence on the terms of this or
> another substantially similar licence, even if you might regard that
> use as derogatory treatment under moral rights laws.

"Nice try."  This tries to fix "droit d'auteur" problems.  Unfortunately,
the very nature of the problem is that these "moral rights" are legally
inalienable, so you can't waive them.  I don't know if this does any harm,

> 2.6 If You make available to Squiz.Net, or any other user, any of Your
> Modifications, You represent to Us that these are Your original work
> and that, as far as You are aware, neither it or its assignment,

This is unacceptable.  It's perfectly normal to modify a work by
adapting the work of some third party.  For example, I can adapt
a permissively-licensed bit of code to the Linux kernel.  I can't
represent that it's my original work, because it's not.

> licence or use under this Licence or another licence on these terms
> infringes the intellectual property rights of any other person other
> than a patent identified by a notation made in the source code you
> have made available.

Hold up.  This is saying "you represent that, as far as you are aware,
your modifications don't violate any patents".  That includes patents
that wouldn't hold up in court, but due to lack of trying, havn't
been struck down officially.

> 2.7 If the assignment in clause 2.4 is ineffective or does not occur
> for any reason, You grant to Squiz.Net a royalty free, perpetual,
> worldwide licence to use all intellectual property rights You have in
> all Modifications to the Software, including the right to grant
> licences to others on the terms of this or another substantially
> similar Licence.

This does two things:

 - "You grant us a license to your modifications, even if we never
receive them".
 - "The license we get is wider than this license"--they can waive
 permissions, if they think the result is "substantially similar".

This is a gray, undecided area.  I'd consider it in more depth, but
there's so much else wrong with this license that it's not necessary.

> 2.8 You must Notify Squiz.Net within 30 days of making any
> Modifications even if You do not intend to distribute those
> Modifications. Notify is defined in Clause 4.2 below. If Your

This is unacceptable.  Copyright holders don't get to be all-knowing
monitors of everything beying done with their software, and this is
in basic violation of the Dissident test and the Desert Island test.

> 2.10 You are obliged to promptly provide a copy of any Modifications
> You make to any other party that requests a copy of Your Modifications
> and in a format reasonably requested by them. You may not charge any

This is unacceptable, for similar reasons.

> 4.14 Termination
> This Licence and the rights granted to You by Squiz.Net, in particular
> those rights granted by Clauses 1.1 and 1.2, will terminate
> automatically if:
> (a)  You knowingly fail to comply with its terms and in particular the
> terms of Clause 3.1;
> (b)  You initiate or threaten legal proceedings of any kind against Squiz.Net;

This is unacceptable.  If Squiz.Net engages in blackmail, extortion or
slander against me, DoS's my machine, or drives a truck up to my house
and makes off with my car, I may initiate perfectly legitimate legal
proceedings against them.  They are not free (in a free license) to use
their software as a lever to discourage my doing so.

Glenn Maynard

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