The Invisible Hand

John Cowan jcowan at
Tue Oct 2 15:27:02 UTC 2001

Russell Nelson wrote:

> In the real world, with judges, lawyers, and courts, Apple would have
> to 1) discover that you have used it personally as an employee, and 2)
> prove that you did this wearing your employee hat, as opposed to the
> personal use of your work computer.

It is not clear to me whether you are arguing that my (hypothetical)
behavior is de minimis, or simply that there are evidentiary
difficulties.  It is quite possible that my employer has an internal
organization (as many do) that looks for violations of licenses.

As for your second point, it is also quite unclear from the license,
at least to me (IANAL), just who it is that has the burden of persuasion
on the subject of Deployment.  Must Apple prove that my use was
commercial, or is it up to me to prove that it was not?

> Many of the OSI Certified Open Source Software licenses impose a cost
> on a contributor.  Some contributors may decide that the cost is too
> high.  If so, that is their decision.  I don't think there's anything
> in the Open Source Definition which says that making and/or
> distributing modifications must not be inconvenient for anyone.

I was under the impression that OSI had rejected licenses that required
all modifications to be reported (as opposed to published) to the
original author, precisely on grounds of onerousness to people like
the makers of distros.  There does not seem to be any list of
rejected licenses anywhere, so I can't check this.

> Nor
> do I think the OSD needs something like that.  If it did, then the GPL
> wouldn't pass the bar, with its requirement for three years of source
> distribution.

Source distribution *to those who have received the binary from you*,
not to the world at large.

Not to perambulate             || John Cowan <jcowan at>
    the corridors               ||
during the hours of repose     ||
    in the boots of ascension.  \\ Sign in Austrian ski-resort hotel

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