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Re: [HACKERS] proposed improvements to PostgreSQL license

From: Chris Bitmead <chrisb(at)nimrod(dot)itg(dot)telstra(dot)com(dot)au>
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: [HACKERS] proposed improvements to PostgreSQL license
Date: 2000-07-04 03:27:14
Message-ID: 39615992.CB9A2C76@nimrod.itg.telecom.com.au (view raw or flat)
Thread:
Lists: pgsql-announcepgsql-generalpgsql-hackers
Thomas Lockhart wrote:
> However, the path to do this
> isn't perfectly clear to anyone; this is the first concrete proposal we
> have had which does try to address the issues we believe are already
> here whether we want them or not.

As someone else mentioned, why does postgresql have to break new ground? 

> > 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?

> It is *not* trying to be GPL. 

GPL is essentially "You must make changes under the same licence". As
far as I can see this licence is saying the same thing in a wishy-washy
way.

> It is trying to be BSD, while extending
> liability protection to the current cast of developers,

The liability exclusion clause I don't really have a problem with. It's
the other bits that I'd concerned about. I ask again what does "submits"
mean? Who does it mean to? The GPL has nailed down the definitions here.
This language is so wide I'd defy you to get the same meaning from most
people who read it.

> The current license asks users to absolve the University of California
> of any liability involving use of the Postgres source code. It does not
> (currently) explicitly ask the same on behalf of the current developers
> (including yourself ;)

My guess is that if anyone is going to be sued (which I just don't
believe, but anyway....), it wouldn't be based on the software, it would
be based on what some developer has said on a mailing list. Given a
working compiler the source code will do exactly what the source code
says it should do. It's the statements the developers make in other
forums which people will be relying on to know what the source code
should do.

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

By changing what you are and aren't allowed to do with changes to the
code.

> I disagree, though we don't know UC's motivations for sure. imho the BSD
> license is intended to protect UC from "deep pockets" lawsuits, while
> preserving some credit for the original design team and the institution
> which made it possible.

If we accept the above, then why the restrictions on how you can change
it?

> Good point. But the USA is the demon spawning ground for lawyers, and is
> at the leading edge of aggressive new legal territory. 

The nice thing about the simple licence with no mention of legal
territory is that it can be sensibly interpreted in each independant
legal jurisdiction. If Virginia passes a law saying that any developer
who releases software with bugs with licencing subject to their laws,
shall be hung until they are dead, then I am not affected, even if one
day I want to visit Virginia. That's extreme I know, but what do I as an
Australian know abouth Virginia? For all I know they are a nazi regime.
I just don't want anything I have to do with be in any way subject to
the laws of that state. Why would I?


My final statement would be this, YOU CAN ALWAYS MAKE AN OPEN-SOURCE
LICENCE STRONGER. YOU CAN NEVER MAKE IT WEAKER EVER AGAIN.

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