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Re: Revised Copyright: is this more palatable?

From: Peter Eisentraut <peter_e(at)gmx(dot)net>
To: The Hermit Hacker <scrappy(at)hub(dot)org>
Cc: PostgreSQL Development <pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org>, pgsql-general(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: Revised Copyright: is this more palatable?
Date: 2000-07-05 00:11:53
Message-ID: Pine.LNX.4.21.0007042207130.3542-100000@localhost.localdomain (view raw, whole thread or download thread mbox)
Lists: pgsql-generalpgsql-hackers
The Hermit Hacker writes:

> Is the following more palatable to those of us that aren't US citizens? 

Is it really necessary that the developers' DISCLAIMER is different in
wording than the UCB DISCLAIMER? Is there any deeper thought behind it? If
not, I humbly suggest using the same text.

> The only part that I believe at least one person had an issue with was:
> "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."

There is certainly a point behind this. But this point essentially applies
to all open source projects, even GPL'ed ones. Is there an implicit grant
of license when you submit patches? If we feel that this issue needs to be
addressed then we should involve the open source community at large, not
move ahead by ourselves. Ask the Open Source Initiative, Software in the
Public Interest, the FSF, other large scale projects (FreeBSD), other
commercial entities, such as RedHat. You just can't sneak in this sort of
new language without anyone noticing.

There are also particular issues I have with the wording. What's a
"contribution"? One could interpret that any modification to PostgreSQL
that you make available to the public at large is a contribution. That
would make re-publishing PostgreSQL under a different license impossible.

It would also be quite tricky to enforce this change. Consider this: All
of the current code is under the current license, you can't change that.
Therefore, anyone who contributes changes to the *current* code is not
bound by this *new* license; only truly *new* code is bound by the new
license. But if it's truly new code then it does not constitute a
"modification or other change". So this license could never take effect
unless the all the authors of the exiting code explicitly agree that all
of their old code is now under the new license. That's not going to

Yes, I'm language lawyering. But the fact that such interpretations are
possible makes me uneasy.

> I consider it an appendum to the existing copyright ... I don't know, does
> that make it any less BSD/open?


The _copyright_ is held by the entity who wrote the code, the _license_
are the conditions under which he makes them available to the rest of the
world. This also makes the current wording "Portions Copyright ...
PostgreSQL, Inc." kind of questionable.

And yes, IMHO any change to the BSD license makes it less BSD.

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

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