Re: Document on Holt bill (was Re: I need your help today-- oppose Holt bill as introduced)

From: Brian Behlendorf <brian_at_behlendorf_dot_com>
Date: Fri Jun 26 2009 - 16:45:19 CDT

On Fri, 26 Jun 2009, Edward Cherlin wrote:
> I suggest something more practical and less threatening: any license
> accepted as Free by FSF, at
> http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/index_html#GPLCompatibleLicenses
>
> This includes Apache (2.0 or later), BSD minus the advertising clause,
> X11 (aka MIT License), Artistic, and others.
>
> We don't have to mention FSF, just supply the list.
>
> Or we can specify the attributes of an acceptable license:

To remove confusion or the potential for someone to sneak something in (a
license that meets the criteria of acceptable but also finds a hole in the
logic that lets them slip something nefarious in) it is worth specifying a
specific license. Many of the ones from the list above do not come with
patent assurances from the authors, for instance. Of the ones mentioned
above, only Apache's has that.

If you want to get into specifics at all about licensing, you will be
making a case to people who are not going to (want to) take the time to
understand the logic of a set of legal constraints, so presenting
attributes might feel right to us coders but will just be confusing and
anything confusing will get canned. But being too vague - just saying
"freely available" for instance - leaves us too exposed to someone
"misinterpreting" that to mean commercial demo- or "freeware" the way IE8
is "freeware". Saying "public domain" is awkward as well, as it's not
clear that someone (other than the government) can actually select that
option in a completely legal way, and public domain would not come with
the patent rights that might be important. So I do suggest being
specific, and using the Apache 2.0 license.

While it sounds like this issue is limited to accessibility technologies,
if you are getting language around IP licensing into a voting bill, it's
reasonable to think it might get re-used for other kinds of gov-funded
technology development. One precedent for this is the language around
Open Source in the Rockefeller amendment to the Recovery act:

http://govhealthit.com/articles/2009/03/30/arra-open-source.aspx

But without defining "open-source" in the act, it's kinda wide open.

> I think we mean LGPL, which cannot be misrepresented as "viral".
> (Formerly Library GPL, now Lesser GPL)

If we're confused, imagine the folks who aren't as familiar with free
software.

         Brian

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Received on Tue Jun 30 23:17:15 2009

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