Subject: Re: Admin burden of proprietary licenses.
From: Russell Nelson <nelson@crynwr.com>
Date: 1 May 1998 03:12:08 -0000

Brian Behlendorf writes:
 > At 07:12 PM 4/30/98 -0300, Bob Young wrote:
 > >The issue I'd appreciate some feedback on is the simple administrative 
 > >burden of anything but unrestricted free redistribution of the code type 
 > >licenses.
 > 
 > This is why the Apache developers have always favored the BSD-style license
 > over the GNU license.

I think Bob is including the GPL in the class of unrestricted free
redistribution.  You can *always* give away GPL'ed code.  No, the
problem for distributors are the various projects that use non-BSD/GPL
licenses.  Those get tricky.

 > But legally, any of the 100 or so external contributors to Apache
 > (there are 98 different email addresses in the CHANGES file) could,
 > in theory, sue for copyright violation, or even potentially their
 > employers could sue.

No, they can't.  Well, I mean, they can sue all day if they want, but
anyone distributing Apache is an innocent infringer.  You, having
accepted the code from them with the permissions of a BSD license, are
an innocent infringer.  All that they can tell you to do is stop
distributing the code, because it's not freely copyable.  At that
point, you rewrite.

 > This is an issue both for companies wishing to base products on Apache, and
 > also for large institutional users, who don't want to wake up one morning
 > to an email notifying them that the software they used was in jeopardy.  

As I understand software law, once you've got a copy of a piece of
software, you own it.  You have certain additional rights involving
backup copies, but specifically, no one can take it away from you, and
no one can make you stop using it.  On the other hand, if someone
claims that they hold the copyright, they *can* force you to stop
copying it.  So apache.org is at risk of not having a distributable
product, but apache users are at no risk at all.

 > Patents are a second big rats nest, but I won't go into that now.

Patents basically mean that you don't own software, you merely can
claim to own it until someone with a stronger claim comes along.
Patents suck (it's a technical term).

-- 
-russ <nelson@crynwr.com>  http://web.crynwr.com/~nelson
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