Subject: Re: namespace protection compatible with the OSD?
From: phil hunt <philh@comuno.freeserve.co.uk>
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2001 15:09:29 +0100 (BST)

On Fri, 20 Apr 2001, Brian Behlendorf wrote:
> On Thu, 19 Apr 2001, Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M. wrote:
> > I am sorry about joining the discussion late. This sounds interesting.
> > Brian, do you mind clarifying your question without rehashing what has been
> > discussed? I do not want to bore those who have followed the thread, but
> > what do you mean by "implement" and what is the concern you are raising?
> 
> I was wondering if there was a way, compatible with the Open
> Source Definition as well as acceptable to others in the community, to
> create a copyright license for an API specification that helps ensure
> compatibility of derivative works. 

If by "ensure compatibility of derivative works" you mean "forbid thre
creation of incompatible derived works", then I think the answer is no.
From the OSD:

   3. Derived Works

   The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must
   allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of
   the original software.

However, since any derivative works of a strong copylefted license must
also be open source, it is difficult to impossible for an unscrupulous
person to use software under a strong copyleft license to do an
"embrace, extend, and extinguish" strategy.

I personally am not all that bothered about obfuscated interfaces,
*provided* that open source programmers are legally permitted to
reverse-engineer them. Unfortunately, due to iniquitous copyright and
patent laws, this is sometimes not the case.

So perhaps there should be an open source license, which says that if
a company uses software under that license, then they must allow people
to use all their proprietary interfaces. (Imagine if Amazon was forced
to either abandon their 1-click patent, or wipe all the open source
software off all their hard disks).

-- 
***** Phil Hunt ***** 
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