Subject: Re: brands, trademarks, and the GPL
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 1999 15:02:47 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Bruce" == Bruce Perens <> writes:

    Bruce> From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
    >> It's a net gain to a heterogeneous community, if the various
    >> licenses are well crafted and not proliferated excessively.

    Bruce> As the person at least partially responsible for several of
    Bruce> those licenses, I think we already have too many.

    Bruce> However, I think that [the IBM and ATT] licenses are
    Bruce> identical with many other Open Source licenses in _intent_,
    Bruce> and I expect that in a little while we should be able to
    Bruce> sit down together and work out one license that big
    Bruce> corporations can use.

Sure, in that case (where they overlap in intent and mechanism
substantially) there would be a clear social loss if the various
versions remain in use.  That is, being applied to new software, or
maintained on software in continuing development when the new versions 
could legally (vis-a-vis the original license) and practically (the
author's intent) be unified with some other variant.

Note that your claim simply boils down to "this segment of the
community is not heterogeneous enough to need more than one license".
I don't have enough knowledge to make empirical statements like yours;
I'm glad that somebody who does, did so, and in such a clear way.

Would you care to hazard a guess as to whether the "Corporate Biggie
PL" can be unified with say the GPL someday?  How about whether it is
the kind of software or the kind of copyright holder that seems to

Finally, the short run is another matter entirely.  While it would be
boneheaded not to sit down and try to work things out in advance, it
remains true that the law is the granddaddy of all "learning-by-doing"
activities.  We're going to make mistakes (even the GPL will have at
least three versions according to rumor, not counting LGPL variants);
it is not necessarily a bad strategy to make them in parallel, even if
that increases confusion in the short run.

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