Subject: RE: Change ot topic, back to OVPL
From: Alex Bligh <alex@alex.org.uk>
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2005 00:52:59 +0100

Larry,

--On 24 August 2005 16:39 -0700 Lawrence Rosen <lrosen@rosenlaw.com> wrote:

> The confusion about this point is not surprising. Many licenses are
> ambiguous or don't address the topic at all. But I know of licenses that
> were rejected by OSI because they tried to reach to licensees' internal
> activities.

I should have addressed the substantive point too. I know (or rather hope)
I am preaching to the choir here.

The question most people ask with the (imaginary) Foo license that imposes
obligation X on the licensee who distributes the software is "what happens
if I put it on my internal FTP server". By this, they mean "I, P an am
employee of organization Q, I downloaded something licensed under the Foo
license, and want to know what happens if other employee R has a copy of my
modifications - does obligation X apply?"

It seems to me the first question here is "who is the licensee?". It seems
to me that in the general case, the answer here is Q. In which case there
is no real distribution when the above happens, as both P and R are acting
as agents, and on the authority of Q.

This isn't only an issue for the OVPL, this is an issue for any license
(who forms the contract, in the above example, in the OSL). Furthermore,
well written licenses only apply obligation X on some other party's
request. IE noone has to do anything until asked. Example: under the GPL,
if Q mails an executable to R, the rather uninteresting question as to
whether this is distribution does not arise unless and until someone with
locus standi asks which limb of clause 3 applies. As (in general) noone
does, then (in general) noone cares what the answer to the
angels-on-pinheads problem above is.

I don't think the OVPL is anything special here.

Alex