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Re: [GENERAL] Re: [HACKERS] proposed improvements to PostgreSQL license

From: Tom Lane <tgl(at)sss(dot)pgh(dot)pa(dot)us>
To: Thomas Lockhart <lockhart(at)alumni(dot)caltech(dot)edu>
Cc: chris(at)bitmead(dot)com, pgsql-general(at)postgresql(dot)org, PostgreSQL Hackers <pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org>, PostgreSQL Announce <pgsql-announce(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: Re: [GENERAL] Re: [HACKERS] proposed improvements to PostgreSQL license
Date: 2000-07-04 07:23:28
Message-ID: 26471.962695408@sss.pgh.pa.us (view raw or flat)
Thread:
Lists: pgsql-announcepgsql-generalpgsql-hackers
Thomas Lockhart <lockhart(at)alumni(dot)caltech(dot)edu> writes:
> Postgres is starting to become a visible thing, and is going to be used
> by people who don't know much about the free software movement. And
> *I'm* within reach of the American court system, and *you* can
> contribute code which could make me a target for a lawsuit.

A further comment here: BSD and similar licenses have indeed been used
successfully for a couple of decades --- within a community of like-
minded hackers who wouldn't dream of suing each other in the first
place.  Postgres is starting to get out into a colder and harder world.
To name just one unpleasant scenario: if PG continues to be as
successful as it has been, sooner or later Oracle will decide that we
are a threat to their continued world domination.  Oracle have a
longstanding reputation for playing dirty pool when they feel it
necessary.  It'd be awfully convenient for them if they could eliminate
the threat of Postgres with a couple of well-placed lawsuits hinging on
the weaknesses of the existing PG license.  It'd hardly even cost them
anything, if they can sue individual developers who have no funds for
a major court case.

Chris and Peter may not feel that they need to worry about the
sillinesses of the American legal system, but those of us who are
within its reach do need to worry about it.

I'm not opining here about the merits or weaknesses of Great Bridge's
proposal.  (What I'd really like is to see some review from other
legal experts --- surely there are some people on these mailing lists
who can bring in their corporate legal departments to comment?)  But
what we have here is a well-qualified lawyer telling us that we've got
some problems in the existing license.  IMHO we'd be damned fools to
ignore his advice completely.  Sticking your head in the sand is not
a good defense mechanism.

			regards, tom lane

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