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Re: Geant4 Software License, version 1.0



Joe Smith writes:

> "MJ Ray" <mjr@phonecoop.coop> wrote in message
> 1152102443.090537.1506.nullmailer@klnet.towers.org.uk">news:1152102443.090537.1506.nullmailer@klnet.towers.org.uk...
> > Kevin B. McCarty <kmccarty@Princeton.EDU>
> >> I would be interested to hear your opinions on the Geant4 Software
> >> License, version 1.0 [1]. [...]
> >> [1] http://geant4.web.cern.ch/geant4/license/LICENSE.html
> >
> > I think it is clearly GPL-incompatible (as you noted) for reasons
> > similar to the old BSD licence and it might not follow the DFSG because
> > of clauses 4 (automatic donation to upstream), clause 8 (no right to
> > dispute unauthorised inclusion of your code) and maybe 5 (discrimination
> > against fields of use) below.
> 
> How exactly does automatic upstream licence violate the DFSG?

There are several perspectives on this.  The clearest is that it is a
violation of DFSG#3 (same terms as the license of the original
software).  One could make a case that it is a fee for redistribution
or that it discriminates against fields of endeavor.  Since the nature
of the license-to-upstream is unclear, it is more of an issue.

However, because the license-to-upstream is merely the default state,
rather than a truly automatic state, I personally do not view it as a
DFSG violation.

> I think I see your point with number 8, but the idea of that clause
> fits the spirit of Software freeness. the idea is to prevent a big
> company from
> suing the developers without any good reason in an attempt to extort
> money from
> the developers. That sort of clause does discorage that. It is also a
> purely defensive clause.
> Can you suggest a better wording?
> 
> I don't think 5 is really a DFSG freeness problem, as attempting to patent
> a derivitive work is questionable. With all likelyhood such a patent
> would be invalidated in a court battle, so the clause only serves to prevent
> the whole thing from happening. I see no feilds of endevor which require
> software patents.

My reading of section 5 was that it prohibits the inclusion of
portions of the Geant4 software itself in a patent application.  I do
not believe this impairs the patent process -- if the patent depends
so strongly on the base software, its novelty is dubious.  Similarly,
I think that including open source software in patent applications is
not defensible as a DFSG#6 "field of endeavor".

Michael Poole



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