Subject: Re: GPLv3 draft
From: "Forrest J. Cavalier III" <>
Date: Tue, 11 Apr 2006 09:57:46 -0400

Lawrence Rosen wrote:
> Ben Tilly wrote:
>>It is far better to have a single license written in one language that
>>is as clear as possible.  Particularly if said license is written in
>>such a way that it will almost certainly be valid in any country that
>>abides by international agreements on what contract and copyright law
>>should look like.  And for software development, for better or for
>>worse, the natural language to choose for this purpose is English.
>>Which is what the GPL does.
> More correctly, this is what GPL attempts to do but hasn't succeeded yet. As
> a license -- even in its latest draft -- it isn't yet "as clear as possible"
> or "almost certainly ... valid in any country." Wishing that result doesn't
> make it so.

When the first big GPL lawsuit made it into court, (was it MySQL?)  I seem
to remember lots of people were concerned that it get decided the
"wrong" way and thereby open up GPL "abuses/exploits"?

I seem to remember a collective sigh of relief when that didn't happen.

How much of a problem is that the license means what the offerer meant, not what
the drafter meant?  Sure, the FSF seems very on top of offering legal help
in cases when it matters, but they are not copyright holders for all GPL'ed 
code, and therefore do not get to defend or sue.

To really undermine the GPL, could some company (in say, Redmond,) release some 
GPL'ed code, sue a violator, and as plaintiff pick some unfavorably weird 
interpretation of the GPL, intending to lose the court battle on purpose to set 
unfavorable precedent?

I think SCO v IBM is just a skirmish, but it goes to show that even things
you think are slam dunk true can get disputed by flat-earthers with PIPE
or otherwise funny money to spend on litigation.  Am I wacko to think this is
a threat?