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Re: Dontation -- html renderer for Swing.

From: Mark Wielaard
Subject: Re: Dontation -- html renderer for Swing.
Date: Sun, 12 Dec 2004 13:35:18 +0100


On Sat, 2004-12-11 at 19:43, Thomas Zander wrote:
> On Saturday 11 December 2004 18:04, Mark Wielaard wrote:
> > Normally we want to have a complete paper trail of the sources we
> > distribute as part of GNU Classpath. This is normally a simple process
> > of sending a statement to the FSF that you have the right to contribute
> > the sources to the project and that the FSF is free to distribute them
> > as part of the GNU project. That way we (and all users) can be sure that
> > GNU Classpath is now and will always be free software. We don't want
> > surprizes somewhere in the future when someone claims to have rights on
> > a work that we didn't know about when we added the sources. And we want
> > to be sure for example that the people who worked on GNU Classpath code
> > didn't study and/or copy some proprietary implementation while working
> > on code intended to be contributed to the project.
> >
> > See also:
> >
> >
> >
> > So we would like to contact the original author. Could you try to
> > contact him and ask him to email me about donating the code to the GNU
> > Classpath project?
> As I said before; the original author went missing. Reading various forums 
> many many people have tried to contact him, and I find myself lucky that I 
> found the sourceforge project where he put his sources.

I quickly looked at these. The first one doesn't seem to be about free
software at all. There is a proprietary license and no source code. The
second one does seems to have a source code dump done once in 2002 by
someone else than the original author and no other activity. There is no
history available for the project or the admins of the project there.
The FAQ seems to indicate that this isn't really a free software
project: "You may not use the component to build a generic Help
application without consent. Other uses such as dynamic document
authoring from databases also require specific consent."

I hope you understand that we want to be a little careful with the code
we accept into the project. We want people to be able to trust that a
GNU project is and always will be free software. That means being a
little paranoid upfront about accepting contributions and making sure we
trace the origins of everything we include carefully.

> This is a component that has nothing to do with the Swing API and therefor I 
> make this offer with a clear conscience.

Thanks, the offer is really appreciated. But it would be reeassuring if
you could provide a bit more references to the authors and origin of the
source code in question. I didn't look long and hard and I might have
missed some clear clues how, what and where this source code originated
from and how to make sure I can contact or verify the claims of all
copyright holders. Any help with that would be appreciated.

>   If you ask me if I have seen Suns sources for the j2se, yes I have.
> But, like I would never ask if Linus ever seen Windows sources, I'm curous 
> why you ask since the relevance is non existant

The reason we ask this question and some other question about the origin
of the source code or about anybody that might have claims on your work
is because we (again) want to be careful and avoid any unnecessary
trouble or legal issues. When people study the source code of
proprietary implementations while working on similar things that they
want to donate to the GNU project we want to make absolutely sure that
they did not just copy the other implementation. Having statements from
people that they didn't even see the source code of another proprietary
implementation makes it much easier for the FSF to defend against any
frivolous legal claims. Studying another proprietary implementation and
then creating a similar looking implementation for GNU Classpath just
makes it so much harder for us to proof that we have an independant
implementation. It is about risk avoidance.

This is a general guideline for official FSF GNU projects. See else the
chapter "Keeping Free Software Free" in the GNU Coding Standards:



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