Skip site navigation (1) Skip section navigation (2)

Re: [HACKERS] proposed improvements to PostgreSQL license

From: Chris Bitmead <chrisb(at)nimrod(dot)itg(dot)telstra(dot)com(dot)au>
To: pgsql-general(at)postgresql(dot)org
Cc: PostgreSQL Hackers <pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org>, PostgreSQL Announce <pgsql-announce(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: Re: [HACKERS] proposed improvements to PostgreSQL license
Date: 2000-07-04 01:13:55
Message-ID: 39613A53.3CDF9D79@nimrod.itg.telecom.com.au (view raw or flat)
Thread:
Lists: pgsql-announcepgsql-generalpgsql-hackers
I think this is a bad idea for the following reasons:

1) It is trying to be a GPL in what it is trying to achieve without
actually being well thought out. Any person who "submits" modifications
must do so under the same licence. Submits to what or whom?

2) If the core team want to make sure modifications to the software are
under the same licence then they should merely insist that any patches
are accompanied by that same licence (i.e. the current licence). End of
story end of problem. If you want to go any further than that you may as
well go GPL.

3) You talk about how wonderful the BSD licence is, then you really
change the whole meaning of that licence.

4) What is this stuff about "tightening up of what the existing licence
is supposed to do"? What do you think it is supposed to do? I think it
is basicly an annoying artifact of UCB's legal team that happens to make
the software virtually public domain. We might just as well get rid of
all licences except that we're not allowed.

5) This "protection" for developers is a straw-man. I don't see, say the
free-bsd developers worried about this. If Great bridge wants to
distribute with extra disclaimers then go ahead.

6) This is a very US-centric view of the world. Most of the developers
are not in the US if the postgresql.org home page is correct. We don't
care about the stinkin UCITA, we are not bound by and don't care about
anything the State of Virginia may or may not say.

7) I hope you're not thinking of bloating each and every source file
with all that legalese.

8) "To be integrated with the software in such a way that this license
must be seen before downloading can occur".
Umm, can all the laywers please just butt out? Every other open-source
package in the universe just relies on a licence file in the home
directory. You going to try and stop people downloading with clicking a
licence agreement? How you going to handle mirrors? Or are  you not
going to mirror any more? What about Red Hat el al?

Point (8) makes me thing that this whole thing is the recommendation of
some lawyer who is totally out of touch with the free software community
but feels compelled to add a whole lot of disclaimers and so-forth
because that's his job. Bottom line is it's not broke so leave it alone.


Ned Lilly wrote:
> 
> Greetings all,
> 
> I'm sending this to -announce, -hackers, and -general; apologies for
> the cross-post.  Replies should automatically go to -general, which
> is the best forum for this discussion.  But I wanted to make sure
> the largest possible audience of PostgreSQL users had a chance to
> comment...
> 
> Several weeks ago, we announced the formation of a new company
> called Great Bridge, which will professionally market and support
> open source software solutions based on PostgreSQL.  As we said at
> the time, we've been working since late last year to understand the
> software itself, the needs of business customers who might be
> inclined to use PostgreSQL, and of course the dynamics of the
> PostgreSQL development community.  Our team met with the six members
> of the PostgreSQL core steering group in March, and had a good and
> open exchange about each other's plans for the future.
> 
> One issue that has always been a source of uncertainty - I think for
> all of us - has been the license under which PostgreSQL is
> distributed.  As we've said publicly on Slashdot, ZDNet, and other
> forums, we're big fans of the current Berkeley license; we find it
> more "open" than other open source licenses, in the sense that the
> user/hacker has almost total freedom as to what he wants to do with
> the code.  We've also found, through some rather extensive market
> research, that the business community (to which we'll be selling
> products and services) vastly prefers it over GPL, or hybrids like
> Mozilla, etc.  I don't want to re-start that debate here - the
> consensus in the PostgreSQL community over the past few years seems
> to be that the Berkeley style license is best suited for the
> continued development of PostgreSQL.
> 
> What we'd like to propose is a general tightening up of what the
> existing license is *supposed* to be doing in the first place -
> protecting the developers who worked on the code, and ensuring that
> the code stays open source in perpetuity.  Rusty Friddell, the
> general counsel of Great Bridge's parent company Landmark
> Communications, explained our views on this to the core group in
> March, and they expressed an interest in our going ahead with some
> research on how the license might be improved.  So Great Bridge went
> ahead and engaged two outside law firms to work on it, and we now
> have something we're ready to present to the community.  We've
> included the core group in early looks at some of the thinking, and
> we all feel it's now ready for a full-fledged debate in the broader
> hacker world.
> 
> I'm including below two things - 1) a note from Rusty explaining a
> bit more about what we're trying to do, and 2) the proposed text of
> the license itself.  I'll monitor the discussion on the -general
> list, and if anyone has any specific questions for Rusty, I'll be
> happy to channel them to him.
> 
> Thanks,
> 
> Ned Lilly
> VP Hacker Relations
> Great Bridge, LLC
> 
> -----
> 
> text of note from Rusty Friddell, general counsel of Landmark
> Communications, Inc.:
> 
> What follows is a suggested addition to the existing Berkeley
> license governing the use of PostgreSQL.  The changes are suggested
> mainly to address and deal with the many contributions by the hacker
> community to the work of the original licensor, the University of
> California.  Unlike other open source licenses (GNU, Mozilla,
> Interbase), the original Berkeley license does not take into account
> that over time a lot of different individual developers and perhaps
> some corporate contributors, would have individual copyrights on
> substantial portions of the code.
> 
> This deficiency has two adverse affects.  First, the contributing
> developers are not afforded the protection of the exculpatory
> language in "bold face."  Certainly, having given of their time and
> creativity without compensation, the developers should be extended
> this coverage as clearly as possible.  Second, and admittedly of
> significant importance to Great Bridge, the commercial proliferation
> of PostgreSQL could be hindered if business users are concerned that
> the license might not cover the substantial additions and
> improvements made to the code over the last few years.
> 
> In developing the new language, the resources of two intellectual
> property law firms, one East Coast and one West Coast, were tapped.
> No less important was my education by the core group as to what was
> good about the existing license.  As a result of the former, you
> will see some minor language clean up.  From the latter, you'll note
> a pretty strict adherence to the "short and sweet" approach of the
> original Berkeley license, particularly as compared to the
> lawyer-friendly (that may be an oxymoron) GPL and Mozilla licenses.
> 
> No discussion of this type should be without controversy, so I throw
> you the following red meat:  the choice of state law has been
> selected to cause the application of the Uniform Computer
> Information Transactions Act (UCITA) to the usage of the software.
> 
> (Pause for outrage to subside.)
> 
> Now, I ask that you suspend your initial reaction for a moment and
> consider the following.  As to this license, you are not on the
> receiving end of an attempted screwing at the hands of some evil
> empire desiring to take advantage of defenseless consumers.  You are
> the volunteer creators and improvers of this product who, without
> remuneration, are providing sophisticated business users with an
> alternative to proprietary database software.
> 
> I submit that your efforts should be exempted from any potential
> liability.  The original Berkeley language sought that result, and
> would likely suffice in most states under most circumstances.  The
> application of UCITA simply ensures the result that the original
> language attempts to achieve.  Much of the rest of the UCITA is
> simply inapplicable to this product - the risk that big brother will
> reach into your computer and remove Postgres for failure to pay
> license fees is simply not present where we're dealing with a free
> product.  End of manifesto.
> 
> Two states have adopted UCITA - Virginia and Maryland.  Maryland has
> an October 1, 2000, effective date, but requires that its laws will
> only apply if there is a reasonable connection with the state.
> Virginia has an effective date of July 1, 2001, but does not require
> a connection with the state and thereby gives somewhat greater
> assurance that UCITA will apply to all Postgres-related dealings,
> wherever they occur.  The fact that Great Bridge is based in
> Virginia is really a complete coincidence.
> 
> The revised license also anticipates a concern which many people
> raised in a comment to the Great Bridge announcement, and which came
> up again in the recent Berkeley DB discussion.  It was the mutual
> determination of Great Bridge and the PGSQL core group that, while
> none of us wanted to see the software taken private, an attempt to
> legislate, through the license, that every modification anyone made
> had to be contributed back to the public use, would be poorly
> received and would possibly discourage the use by businesses who
> might want to make certain improvements for their internal use
> only.  Accordingly, the compromise is that no such "poison pill"
> type language has been added to the original Berkeley text, although
> we have provided that once a contribution to the PostgreSQL project
> has been voluntarily made, it is subject to this license and is
> irrevocable - which seems to provide the open-source perpetuity that
> everyone is looking for.
> 
> -----
> 
> [To be integrated with the software in such a way that this license
> must be seen before downloading can occur]
> 
> PostgreSQL Data Base Management System (formerly known as
> Postgres95)
> 
> This directory contains the _______ release of PostgreSQL, as well
> as various post-release patches in the patches directory.  See
> INSTALL for the installation notes and HISTORY for the changes.
> 
> We also have a WWW home page located at: http://www.postgreSQL.org
> 
> -------------------------
> 
> PostgreSQL is not public domain software.  It is copyrighted by the
> University of California but may be used according to the following
> licensing terms:
> 
> POSTGRES95 Data Base Management System (formerly known as Postgres,
> then as Postgres95).
> 
> Copyright (c) 1994-8 Regents of the University of California
> 
> Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this software and
> its documentation for any purpose, without fee, and without a
> written agreement is hereby granted, provided that the above
> copyright notice and this paragraph and the following two paragraphs
> appear in all copies.
> 
> IN NO EVENT SHALL THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA BE LIABLE TO ANY
> PARTY FOR DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL
> DAMAGES, INCLUDING LOST PROFITS, ARISING OUT OF THE USE OF THIS
> SOFTWARE AND ITS DOCUMENTATION, EVEN IF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
> HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.
> 
> THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ANY WARRANTIES,
> INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF
> MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. THE SOFTWARE
> PROVIDED HEREUNDER IS ON AN "AS IS" BASIS, AND THE UNIVERSITY OF
> CALIFORNIA HAS NO OBLIGATIONS TO PROVIDE MAINTENANCE, SUPPORT,
> UPDATES, ENHANCEMENTS, OR MODIFICATIONS.
> 
> -------------------------
> 
> Copyright ( 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 by various contributors (as
> identified in HISTORY) (collectively "Developers") which may be used
> according to the following licensing terms:
> 
> Worldwide permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this
> software and its documentation for any purpose, without fee, and
> without a written agreement is hereby granted, on a non-exclusive
> basis, provided that the above copyright notice, this paragraph and
> the following paragraphs appear in all copies:
> 
> Any person who contributes or submits any modification or other
> change to the PostgreSQL software or documentation grants
> irrevocable, non-exclusive, worldwide permission, without charge, to
> use, copy, further modify and distribute the same under the terms of
> this license.
> 
> IN NO EVENT SHALL ANY DEVELOPER BE LIABLE TO ANY PARTY FOR DIRECT,
> INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, INCLUDING,
> WITHOUT LIMITATION, LOST PROFITS, ARISING OUT OF THE USE OF THIS
> SOFTWARE AND ITS DOCUMENTATION, EVEN IF THE DEVELOPER HAS BEEN
> ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.
> 
> THE DEVELOPERS SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR
> IMPLIED INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF
> MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, NEED, OR QUALITY,
> AND ANY IMPLIED WARRANTY FROM COURSE OF DEALING OR USAGE OF TRADE.
> IN ADDITION, THERE IS NO IMPLIED WARRANTY AGAINST INTERFERENCE WITH
> ENJOYMENT OR AGAINST INFRINGEMENT.  THE SOFTWARE AND DOCUMENTATION
> PROVIDED HEREUNDER IS ON AN "AS IS" BASIS.  NO DEVELOPER HAS ANY
> OBLIGATION TO PROVIDE MAINTENANCE, SUPPORT, UPDATES, ENHANCEMENTS OR
> MODIFICATIONS TO OR FOR THE SOFTWARE OR DOCUMENTATION.
> 
> The foregoing shall be governed by and construed under the laws of
> the State of Virginia.
> 
> BY USING THIS SOFTWARE YOU AGREE TO THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS.  IF
> YOU DO NOT AGREE TO THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS, YOU SHOULD NOT USE
> THIS SOFTWARE.

In response to

Responses

pgsql-announce by date

Next:From: Thomas LockhartDate: 2000-07-04 02:10:05
Subject: Re: [HACKERS] proposed improvements to PostgreSQL license
Previous:From: Trond Eivind=?iso-8859-1?q?_Glomsr=F8d?=Date: 2000-07-03 21:51:46
Subject: Re: [HACKERS] proposed improvements to PostgreSQL license

pgsql-hackers by date

Next:From: The Hermit HackerDate: 2000-07-04 01:39:04
Subject: Re: AW: AW: AW: Modified pg_dump & new pg_restore need testing...
Previous:From: Jan WieckDate: 2000-07-04 00:52:38
Subject: Re: Re: [COMMITTERS] TOAST

pgsql-general by date

Next:From: Web ManagerDate: 2000-07-04 01:17:59
Subject: The postmaster stops for no reason: error report?
Previous:From: Bill BarnesDate: 2000-07-04 00:20:22
Subject: Glade or wxPython and Postgresql

Privacy Policy | About PostgreSQL
Copyright © 1996-2014 The PostgreSQL Global Development Group