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Re: Who can make binding legal agreements

John Goerzen <jgoerzen@complete.org> writes:

> Sure.  SPI owns many of the machines that Debian owns.  If any of these
> machines are being used to distribute this software, as I think is
> likely, then SPI could be liable.

Oh, very good point.  I hadn't thought of this.

> I can see what you're saying.

Thank you.  And I think I also see what you're saying; I snipped a lot of
it, just because I didn't have any further comment, but I think I
understand your concern much better now.  If that license requirement
really does have teeth and is invoked by someone, I can see how SPI may
get sucked in through a stronger chain than just "sue anyone in sight."

> I fear that a line is not so clear to a court or to an plantiff, and
> even an unsuccessful suit against SPI could cause a good deal of damage.

This, alas, is certainly true.  It's true for a lot of free software,
which means that even if we feel like we have a strong legal case, there's
always a weighing of risk in doing anything that might conceivably spark a

> I'd rather err on the side of caution and not give anyone the opening,
> unless SPI's attorney believes the license as-is is safe.

> I believe that there is room for concern (the concerns that I've
> voiced).  I don't know whether or not these concerns really have merit.
> But then, nobody else here does (as far as I know, no real lawyer has
> chimed in here.)

> This is the reason we run things by our attorney -- because he knows
> about them better than we do, and can give us solid advice.  And, I
> think, the reason it would have been good to run this by our attorney
> before posting it online.

I think these are all very reasonable statements.  Not being an
ftp-master, it's not really my decision to make, but my personal opinion
is that the above is good advice and the closer we can make the
relationship between SPI's lawyer and the ftp-master evaluation of
questionable licensing, the less I'll worry about weird license clauses
and questionable provisions.

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

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