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Re: Sun Java available from non-free

Martijn van Oosterhout <kleptog@gmail.com> writes:

> Well, IANAL, but as far as I can see, as long as Sun has a valid reason
> to change their mind and is willing to compensate any losses caused by
> them changing their mind, they can do whatever they like.

Well, but *that* I don't think is a worry.  Sun changes their mind, we
take the software out of non-free again, oh well.  Just like if they
change the license down the road.

The worry is over whether we get sued.  If they might just make us take
the software out of the archive again, oh well.  Like Steve says, I think
that's a risk for quite a lot of stuff in non-free, and is one of the
(many) reasons why the amount of support Debian offers for non-free is
extremely limited.

*Because* this is non-free, I think the situation is very, very different
than it would be for main, and in more ways than just what criteria are
applied to judging the license.  For example, I personally don't think
that Debian makes as strong of an ongoing committment to support something
by including it in non-free; simply removing it in the case of problems is
more of a viable option.  (This may be an opinion that's idiosyncratic to
me, though.)

> A few possible problems are:

> - The promise was made without consideration (no symbolic one cent payment)
> - The promise was not formally notarised. A press notice may not count.
> - It wouldn't damage Debian or anybody much to revoke the statement.

> They may not be able to recover damges for the period you relied on
> their statement, but nothing prevents them from stating the contrary.
> that's assume the promise is considered valid ofcourse.

One of the reasons why I'm curious about analoguous laws in other legal
systems is that, as I understand it, the "no consideration" bits aren't as
relevant to estoppel.  That's a factor in validity of contracts, but
estoppel is a separate principle.  Estoppel basically says that you can't
trap people by lying about your intentions and then suing them when they
rely on your promises.

> A comparison of estoppel between English, American and German. It
> refers to contracts however, we we don't have in this case:
> http://tldb.uni-koeln.de/php/pub_show_document.php?pubdocid=114700

Yeah, that page is about promissory estoppel, and what I'm talking about
is equitable estoppel.


    equitable estoppel n. where a court will not grant a judgment or other
    legal relief to a party who has not acted fairly; for example, by
    having made false representations or concealing material facts from
    the other party.  This illustrates the legal maxim: "he who seeks
    equity, must do equity."  Example: Larry Landlord rents space to Dora
    Dressmaker in his shopping center but falsely tells her a Sears store
    will be a tenant and will draw customers to the project.  He does not
    tell her a new freeway is going to divert traffic from the center.
    When she failed to pay her rent due to lack of business, Landlord sues
    her for breach of lease.  Dressmaker may claim he is equitably

> Thie simplest solution in this case would be if Sun simply attached
> the FAQ as an addendum to the licence rather than stating it's not
> legally binding.

Yeah.  Not disagreeing there.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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