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Re: "Adobe Open Source License" GPL compatible?


From: Martin Dickopp
Subject: Re: "Adobe Open Source License" GPL compatible?
Date: Tue, 12 Apr 2005 19:22:57 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.1007 (Gnus v5.10.7) Emacs/21.4 (gnu/linux)

Mike Linksvayer <address@hidden> writes:

> May code licensed with
> http://partners.adobe.com/public/developer/en/xmp/sdk/license.txt be
> incorporated into a GPL'd codebase?
>
> I am uncertain, reasons at
> http://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/gnu-misc-discuss/2005-04/msg00029.html

IANAL.

I agree more or less with David's analysis. Another minor point: They
seem to refer to the following text as a "copyright notice":

| Copyright (date here) Adobe Systems Incorporated and others. All
| rights reserved. The original version of this source code may be found
| at http://adobe.com.

Apart from the interesting fact that this may force the licensee to lie
(if the original source code disappears from http://adobe.com), it is
not a copyright notice. At least not in the United States, where the
term "notice of copyright" has legal meaning and its form is defined by
17 USC 401.

| 4. TRADEMARK USAGE
| Adobe and XMP are the trademarks or registered trademarks of Adobe
| Systems Incorporated in the United States and other countries. Such
| trademarks may not be used to endorse or promote any product unless
| expressly permitted under separate agreement with Adobe.

I'm generally sceptical of trademark clauses in copyright licenses. I
don't think this clause imposes any requirement which isn't imposed by
trademark law anyway, but if this is indeed the case, why include it in
the copyright license at all? It may be just another indication that the
license was not written by a lawer, however.

| 6. GOVERNING LAW AND JURISDICTION.
| This Agreement is governed by the statutes and laws of the State of
| California, without regard to the conflicts of law principles thereof.
| If any part of this Agreement is found void and unenforceable, it will
| not affect the validity of the balance of the Agreement, which shall
| remain valid and enforceable according to its terms. Any dispute
| arising out of or related to this Agreement shall be brought in the
| courts of Santa Clara County, California, USA.

Both choice of law and choice of venue are restrictions not in the GPL,
making this license GPL incompatible. Additionally, choice of venue (but
not choice of law) is considered non-free by many people in the Free
Software community, because it gives the licensor the unilateral power
to force the licensee to travel half around the world. Even if the
licensor's case is completely bogus and would be thrown out of court
immediately, having to travel to Santa Clara county is so prohibitively
costly to many people that the licensor could demand practically
everything from them.

Martin


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