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Re: Falcon P.L. license (ITP:Bug#460591)

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Josselin Mouette wrote:
> On mer, 2008-03-19 at 20:34 +0100, Giancarlo Niccolai wrote:
>> The license is tightly based on Apache 2, with extra clarifications
>> and permissions.
> This is, well, an interesting claim.
>>    4. *Redistribution of Work and Derivative Works*. You may reproduce
>>       and distribute copies of the Work or Derivative Works thereof in
>>       any medium, with or without modifications, and in Source or
>>       Object form, provided that You meet the following conditions:
>>          5. The Derivative Works are distributed under the terms of
>>             this License, or under terms that do not cause
>>             infringement of this License.
> This clause makes the license a copyleft one. It is free, but this is a
> huge restriction compared to the original license. And this turns the
> license into yet another copyleft license that will be incompatible with
> other ones.
I see; you are talking of comma 4.5 in the specific?

I actually added it after some talk with FSF about "requiring the
derivative work to be distributed copyleft too". In other words, the
aim of this comma is to prevent someone from adding a "frobotz"
statement which nitfols the blorbs, and then distribute an xFalcon as
a closed source product.

I understand that the other statements in article 4 would anyhow force
the distributors of derivative works to provide the original Falcon as
is, while their xFalcon may be closed source, yet I sense that this
may become a threat to the both community that developed the original
Falcon in future and to the users of final products derived from
Falcon. Once someone closes its derived Virtual Machine, how can the
community be certain it doesn't run malevolent code?

Moreover, it is clearly stated that "derivative works" does not
include applications using Falcon as a scripting engine nor modules
extending Falcon. I.e. company xyz may write a differently licensed
Falcon module to integrate their top secret device driver API.

Derivative works are, in this license, only the ones that take a work
on which FPLL has been directly applied, change some instructions and

Anyhow, if anyone sense that this 4.5 comma may be a threat to
community freedom, instead of a guarantee as I wished it to be, it can
be removed, but let's talk about it.

>>    5. *Distribution of Embedding Works and Scripts*.
> I don’t think you can claim anything on the copyrights of scripts using
> your language, but this is definitely something you should ask your
> lawyer.
This license doesn't state there are copyright claims on the scripts;
actually it should do the opposite. If there is any point implicitly
or explicitly stating it, please point it out and it will be fixed.
> If you really want to explicitly tell that you don’t need to follow the
> license for writing scripts, you should add a notice that this license
> and your copyright claims don’t apply to the said scripts, and this will
> be much better.
The point is that, as previously noted, the patentability of grammar
sets (i.e. artificial languages) has been recently debated. Including
the definition of the scripts in this license has the aim to prevent a
Big Guy to come in, add a frobotz statement and patent the resulting
language (or, as someone has pointed out, just patent the grammar
someone else wrote as-is). Or in other words, I did it to maintain
freedom of the grammar set this language define (it means, freedom for
everyone to use and extend it).

When the license was written (2005), I was very dobutful about using
the term "script" or the more fuzzy "grammar ruleset", but time
changes; we can talk about that.

Finally, using the term "script" I added a guarantee that I really
wanted to be in, both for the project and for the final users. I added
the clause that applications written partially or entierly in Falcon
must not hide this fact. In other words, the users must know they are
running Falcon with their application.

There has been long talks about the opportunity of users knowing the
software they run, and the OS /FSF communities generally agree it is
better to know it. When I wrote this license I had in mind the example
of NScript, which is used commercially by many sofwtare houses writing
games (mainly in Japan), but which usage is often kept more or less
hidden from the final user. Of course, final users are 99% not
interested in that, yet having the programmatic ability to remove this
knowledge seemed unfair to me.

The term *Distribution of scripts* and the related commas are there to
prevent distributors to remove this freedom from end-users.

I think this aims are widely accepted and even supported by the Open
Source community. The thing under debate here is if this license is
adequate to protect this freedom and doesn't introudce any hidden
restriction I am not aware of.

Other than that, if the community thinks that some of those guarantees
are actually "restrictions", we can discuss about that and
change/remove them.

Giancarlo Niccolai.

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