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Re: [HACKERS] proposed improvements to PostgreSQL license

From: Peter Eisentraut <peter_e(at)gmx(dot)net>
To: PostgreSQL General <pgsql-general(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: Re: [HACKERS] proposed improvements to PostgreSQL license
Date: 2000-07-03 20:49:54
Message-ID: Pine.LNX.4.21.0007031921150.355-100000@localhost.localdomain (view raw, whole thread or download thread mbox)
Lists: pgsql-announcepgsql-generalpgsql-hackers
Ned Lilly writes:

> 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 -

In order to tighten up the license you'd need to get every developer past,
present, and future to sign paperwork that they agree to this change.

> protecting the developers who worked on the code,

I've said it before and I'll say it again: If you, as a developer, want to
"protect" yourself, talk to a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction, and
not "one East coast" and "one West coast". And don't trust any untested
licenses based on a law that will potentially be overturned in the Supreme
Court anyway.

> and ensuring that the code stays open source in perpetuity.

No, that's what the GPL does.

> 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.

How can you guarantee them that none of the code now is under a different
license (because it was ripped off somewhere) or under patent
restrictions? Or for that matter, how can you guarantee it in the future?
What do you say to anyone that comes along and says "This is my code, it
shouldn't be here"? Will you go back to the logs and prove that he
"contributed or submitted" it and is therefore bound to the license?

Changing the license wording might satisfy the suits, but it doesn't
change reality a bit. It just creates more legal uncertainty for users at
that point. The least thing we need is Yet Another Open Source License.

To my knowledge, the BSD license has been used in one form or another for
at least 20 years and neither has any contributor ever been sued for
liability, nor was there any court case that concluded that the BSD
license is worth anything at all, nor has the developer or commercial
acceptance of any product ever been affected by this "untight" license.

> [To be integrated with the software in such a way that this license
> must be seen before downloading can occur]

That's funny...

> The foregoing shall be governed by and construed under the laws of
> the State of Virginia.

The recurring theme throughout this email was that Great Bridge has
apparently not appreciated that PostgreSQL land extends beyond the borders
of the U.S. of A. Maybe your 32 focus groups in major U.S. cities wanted
the license changed like this, but I'll bet lunch that 32 out of 32 focus
groups in major European cities will look with extreme suspicion at
anything with "laws of the State of XXX" attached to it.

Until they realize that the laws of Virginia don't apply to them. Or to
Canada, where is located these days.

Peter Eisentraut                  Sernanders väg 10:115
peter_e(at)gmx(dot)net                   75262 Uppsala            Sweden

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