Subject: Re: RMS on Plan 9 license, with my comments
From: David Johnson <>
Date: Sat, 22 Jul 2000 22:41:24 -0700

On Sat, 22 Jul 2000, John Cowan wrote:

> > This prohibits modifications for private use, denying the users a
> > basic right
> I agree with RMS here.  Not allowing the private use of private changes
> is way unreasonable.

As a practical matter, though, this is just as meaningless as arguing
over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin :-) You're only
supposed to submit the code upon request. First of all, Lucent has to
know that you've even modified it, which is unlikely. Second, even if
an even coworker turned you in, it's doubtful that Lucent would even
want your private modifications.

I also have a suspicion that this clause is legally meaningless as
well, since I don't think they can restrict private usage of legal
copies to begin with.  Lucent may own the copyright and rights to
distribution, but the user owns the particular copy.

> > > and may, at Your option, include a reasonable charge for the cost
> > > of any media.
> > 
> > This seems to limit the price that may be charged for an initial
> > distribution, prohibiting selling copies for a profit.
> I don't think this is really a problem; a "reasonable" charge can be
> whatever the buyer is willing to pay.

I agree. When I first read Richard's comment on this, I wound up
scratching my head.  It seems to me that his own GPL is pretty much the
same. It gives me the right to charge for copying, while Plan9 lets me
charge for the media. Not much difference in my mind.

> > > Distribution of Licensed Software to third parties pursuant to this
> > > grant shall be subject to the same terms and conditions as set
> > > forth in this Agreement,
> > 
> > This seems to say when you redistribute you must insist on a contract
> > with the recipients, just as Lucent demands when you download it.
> I don't think this is a problem either.  The license doesn't say that
> your distributees must explicitly agree to the terms, just that those
> terms are imposed on them.  (Lucent might have a hard time enforcing
> them on contract alone, but copyright will probably give them most of
> what they need.)

Again, I agree with you. How is this significantly different from the
GPL, where I must make all subsequent distributions (to third parties)
be under the GPL as well? I somehow get the suspicion that *part* of
Richard's opposition to this license is that it isn't a GNU license.

David Johnson