Subject: Re: Can open source cost money?
From: kragen@pobox.com (Kragen)
Date: Wed, 26 Aug 1998 11:45:38 -0400 (EDT)

On Wed, 26 Aug 1998 shap@eros.cis.upenn.edu wrote:
> For those who may not know, the group that controls X11 (I think it's
> the X consortium -- not sure) has just decided to require a royalty if
> the X11 system is bundled in a product that is charged for.

Not just *any* X11 system.  Only the *latest* X11 system.  You can
still distribute XFree86, or an older version of the reference X11
system, freely, and the XFree folks have said they would not use the
new, encumbered X11 code.

The X Consortium has been dismantled, and the Open Group (formerly OSF)
is doing the further work on X (and has also had the copyrights
transferred to it).

> It doesn't appear to have occurred to anyone there that this
> constitutes a breach of contract with all of the people who have
> donated work to the X consortium over the years.

It most certainly does not.  If those people had wanted to prevent this
from happening, they could have used the GPL.  They didn't -- they used
the X11 license, which was designed *specifically* to allow this,
partly because that's what the Unix vendors wanted -- to be able to
charge money to their customers for the X system, and prevent their
customers from redistributing said X system.

(It is worthy of note, in this context, that the X Consortium had
deliberately excluded GPLed code from their distributions for many
years, because they didn't *want* code that prohibited incorporation
into commercial products.)

Furthermore, the X Consortium had been making noises about making this
change for a couple of years before its dissolution.

> I don't know if it's feasible, but does anybody think a class action
> can be made of this?

No.

Kragen

-- 
<kragen@pobox.com>       Kragen Sitaker     <http://www.pobox.com/~kragen/>
We are forming cells within a global brain and we are excited that we might
start to think collectively.  What becomes of us still hangs crucially on
how we think individually.  -- Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web