"Derivative Work" for Software Defined

Don Jarrell don at digitalthinkinginc.com
Wed Jan 8 18:01:03 UTC 2003

This, IMO, is one of the messiest parts of most
alleged "Open Source" licenses.  When one sees a
collection of terms from the several contributors
in a chain, does that mean the user has a licensee-
licensor relationship with each of them ?  What
about conflicts between those sets of terms ? Is
sublicensing through the most recent modifier to be
assumed, so that only those terms apply ?

Without any clarification on superiority, integration,
or sublicensing, and no distinct binding effect/action
on any of these unsigned "things" ("copyright notice",
"terms of use", "disclaimers", ... whatever) a lot
of these important issues remain clouded.  And, it
only gets worse when expository language on history
and philosophy are included in the "license", often
giving rise to MORE conflict or ambiguity.

Drawing from over a year of research, and over 20 years
in licensing, I have been working on my own agreement
template suite that not only covers the strict legal
grant but also address the ongoing integrity of the
agreement and describes a pattern of operation and
some important information/communication standards
intended to make an Open Source community project a
bit more 'business-like'.  I would certainly like to
use this list for a review in a couple of weeks.

Cheers.     dj

Don B Jarrell           don at digitalthinkinginc.com
Digital Thinking Inc.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ken Arromdee [mailto:arromdee at rahul.net]
> Sent: Wednesday, January 08, 2003 11:23 AM
> To: license-discuss at opensource.org
> Subject: Re: "Derivative Work" for Software Defined
> On 8 Jan 2003, Ian Lance Taylor wrote:
> > But, again, it's not unclear for Linux.
> Linus has clearly stated that
> > loadable binary modules are OK for Linux.
> There is no confusion
> > there.
> But Linus doesn't own the copyright of all
> of the code in Linux.  If this
> is just a personal exemption granted by
> Linus and isn't based on a legal
> definition of "derivative work", it wouldn't
> apply to the whole thing, just
> to the parts that he himself wrote.  I don't
> think a kernel containing only
> the parts Linus owns personally would be much use.
> --
> license-discuss archive is at

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