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Re: Java3D license incompatible with DFSG?

On Sat, Sep 15, 2012 at 12:39:23PM -0600, Eric Smith wrote:
> I quoted from the Sun license on Java3D:
> >* You acknowledge that this software is not designed, licensed or
> >* intended for use in the design, construction, operation or
> >* maintenance of any nuclear facility.
> Steve Langasek wrote:
> >This is a standard "No warranty" clause wrt nuclear facilities in
> >the US. It is not a restriction placed on the use of the software
> >in nuclear facilities by the copyright holder, it is a CYA
> >statement that the software has not been approved *by the
> >government regulatory agencies* for use in nuclear facilities in
> >the US. Warranty disclaimers are fine under the DFSG.

> While that may[*] have been the intent, it specifically states that
> the software is "not [...] licensed". It is explicitly stating that
> Sun was not granting the BSD license, or any other license, to those
> in that field of endeavor.

No, you are misinterpreting what is meant here by "licensed".

> I also dispute the idea that there is "a standard 'No warranty'
> clause wrt nuclear facilities in the US".  The (admittedly limited)
> research I have done suggests that this clause is simply something
> that Sun's lawyers invented, and was subsequently copied by quite a
> few otherwise open-source projects, mostly those using Java.

It's possible that Sun was the originator of the clause in question. 
There's enough free software licensed by Sun or using license texts derived
from theirs that it's by this point a de facto "standard".  And it has been
recognized as free by Debian, because the intended meaning is the one I
mentioned above.

> Since the 1960s it has been common for manufacturers of electronic
> components and equipment to disclaim liability for use of their products
> in life-critical or safety-critical systems, but as far as I can tell
> there wasn't any widespread use of an anti-nuclear clause.

Not until you started to see the intersection between corporate lawyers
familiar with these liability issues with safety-critical systems, and free

> [*] I don't think this has anything to do with whether the US
> government has approved the software; that is up to the government
> and not Sun. Rather I think the purpose was to disclaim liability
> for any nuclear attack or meltdown. Either way, though, it is just
> speculation.

The purpose is to disclaim liability by making users aware that it does not
have a license from the US government.  This is why "licensed" is juxtaposed
with "designed" and "intended" instead of being a direct statement that you
are not *allowed* to use it in a nuclear facility.

On Sun, Sep 16, 2012 at 12:22:00AM -0600, Eric Smith wrote:
> If the clause really had something to do with the US government, it
> would be identified as such, and if it had to do with the US
> government controlling what is used in US nuclear facilities, it
> would have specifically stated that, rather than being completely
> open-ended about where the nuclear facilities are located.  (The US
> generally wouldn't have jurisdiction over what software was used in
> nuclear facilities in other countries, e.g., France.)

> If the US government somehow was involved in licensing software for
> use in nuclear facilities, we would see this clause in all sorts of
> software, rather than only in software licensed by Sun, and by other
> parties that have copied the Sun license.

> In any case, regardless of the intent, it is clear that it does
> state that the software is not licensed for use in nuclear
> facilities.  It fails to meet the DFSG and OSD regardless of whether
> the clause was written for Sun's benefit or at the behest of the US
> government.

No.  At this point you are willfully misinterpreting the text despite having
it explained to you what this clause means, apparently from some belief that
the text of a license would never be written in a way that's unclear to a

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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