[License-discuss] [License-review] CC withdrawl of CC0 from OSI process

Chris Travers chris at metatrontech.com
Fri Mar 2 07:57:05 UTC 2012

On Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 9:44 PM, Bruce Perens <bruce at perens.com> wrote:
> On 03/01/2012 09:09 PM, Chris Travers wrote:
>> You seem to say "do not link" and thus repeat more or less what the FSF
>> says (and what Rosen spends a good time arguing against in his book, and he
>> is by no means alone--- at least in any law review articles I have been able
>> to find and read the overall trend is overwhelmingly against seeing linking
>> as having much to do with derivation).
> My goal isn't to help my customers win after they're sued, it's to prevent
> them from ever being in a lawsuit at all. And you do that by staying away
> from some issues.

Ok, so part of avoiding lawsuits is to avoid areas where folks think
they can sue about.  So the FSF's statements are important here.
> Despite the fact that Larry and those law review folks are sure about the
> linking question, every party who would benefit from a case going according
> to Larry's interpretation has settled their case with the GPL licensor
> rather than invest what is necessary for a court to make a determination.
That's why discussion of the murkey middle ground is important.

> So, what do you do? You stay away from that issue and arrive at an
> engineering solution that avoids it.

It also depends on what your relationship is to your audience, and
this is the big issue with explanations that exist apart from the
license.  The FSF can interpret the GPL one way and Linus and the
Linux community in a different way, and if they are public about their
views, the license grant may actually be different.  I don't see
what's so hard to understand about that.  I think for practical
reasons we like to pretend that there is one true interpretation of
the GPL v2 but in fact I don't think that necessarily is the case.....
 The GPL v3 tries to make progress there, but I can tell you that if I
ask two different lawyers with different ideological views regarding
free software what the implications of mixing BSD and GPL3 files in
the same project, I get two different answers.....

>> which seems to be a fools errand: giving an engineering answer to a legal
>> question.
> Only a fool's errand if the engineer doesn't have good legal support, or if
> the lawyer isn't able to work with engineers. I address that a little
> differently, by acting as a consulting engineer who works for the attorney
> and has experience in this particular sort of case.

A fool's errand because the models simply don't match.  There are
cases where no amount of isolation will protect you from having
created a derivative work.  For example, suppose I write a graphics
driver which recognizes Doom's OpenGL calls, and transforms them in
some interesting way.  Maybe if I detect Doom is the one running, I
make walls transparent, or something.

The two programs may be running on different processors, may share no
code or expressive structures, but because the output is pretty
clearly a derivative work may in some cases be derivative itself.

There is no line where you can draw technically where everything on
one side is safe, and if you draw one where everything is not safe,
there's a good chance a lot of stuff on the other side is not safe.
>> My sense (as a non-lawyer) is that communications from a project are very
>> much likely to affect the scope of the license, and that downstream
>> developers are likely to be able to reasonably rely on communications from a
>> project that some practices are safe in their eyes.
> About the worst thing engineers can do is attempt to make legal
> determinations without proper counsel and the necessary training. They
> invariably get it wrong and they can be made to look really stupid in court
> by a competent expert witness. Relying on what they say about legal issues
> of their own projects would be ill-advised. Instead, learn how to engineer
> around the gray areas.

So here's the thing....

What I am saying is there's a difference between you saying "Linking
is legally dubipus under the GPL" and me saying "As far as LedgerSMB
is concerned, we interpret the GPL not to restrict linking and mere
use of API's, but believe that inheritance may be run into trouble."
At least given that I am more or less the de facto leader of the
LedgerSMB project.

The first is an attempt to describe the license in the abstract.  The
second is a representation on behalf of a project as to what license
rights we believe we are granting.   As I understand it, these are
very different statements......

Best Wishes,
Chris Travers

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