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Re: lynx-dev Re: Licensing Lynx (fwd)

From: Klaus Weide
Subject: Re: lynx-dev Re: Licensing Lynx (fwd)
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 06:10:55 -0500 (CDT)

On Tue, 28 Sep 1999, Brett Glass wrote:

> At 05:50 AM 9/28/99 -0500, Klaus Weide wrote:
> >Now you'd have to show how this is relevant.
> It is relevant because, in general, a license which is inconsistent
> or self-contradictory is invalid.

Is that so?  I don't know of any such rule (of thumb?) that a license
"in general" becomes invalid as a whole in those cases.  That doesn't
mean much, IANAL, but please share your basis for that statement.

> >De facto the license is not purely GPL, but GPL + Bellcore Clause
> >(where "Bellcore Clause" has no practical significance for any
> >realistic scenario, and applies to a small portion of code only).
> This cannot be so, because Bellcore has not agreed to it.

Why would they have to?

> I know the answers to many of the legal questions regarding licenses.
> However, I would like to secure the permission of those present,
> and of the University of Kansas, to use portions of the code.

As you are familar with these topics, you must have know you were
on an impossible mission the minute you read the answer in the
following exchange

   > Do they retain their own copyrights on their work,


and put it together with the large number of contributors (not hard to
find out) and the way long-lived open projects generally work and
spread around authorship.  You know that permission from "those
present" is not enough.  You insistence on wanting to secure such
permissions notwithstanding, further arguing cannot possibly help you
towards that goal, you just want to make some point about the GPL or
something else.

> If we must rewrite parts of the code which were written by certain
> authors who are ideologically opposed to commercial re-use, we will
> do that.
> >So tell us more about your "new program for blind users" for which
> >"Lynx is currently the best available code".  What exactly is it
> >about?  
> We seek to eliminate the many problems which blind users have in
> using Lynx to "browse" the Web. Because of the way Lynx displays
> data and redraws the screen, it is not optimal for the blind user.

Trying hard to take this seriously - if the whole point of your
enterprise is to change "the way Lynx displays data and redraws the
screen", well that would probably involve major changes to (parts of)
a couple or three source files, plus minor changes in others.  Not
really much more than a bug fix.  And for *that* you want to obtain
rights to a majority of the lynx code, pay for the whole thing (or
rather have someone else pay for it)?  And that's the extent of the
"unique value" you want to add?  And it's gonna put food on your table
and pay your rent?  Ad you have approached "organizations"?  And if we
don't play along we are somehow preventing you from making an "honest
living" as a programmer???

Yes I am laughing (although not "all the way to the bank" as you put
it).  You are stretching credibility just a bit too much.  I assume
you are making this up as you go.

Or - the less charitable explanation - you do actually have some sort
of plan, but don't want to tell us what it's about.  If you cannot
even tell anyone about the functionality of your planned addition -
just what it's going to do, I am not talking about showing code -
your protestations that you would like nothing better than everyone
sharing and that it's only dire business necessity that prevents you
from doing that etc. are all the more unbelievable.

> >Tell us about your company (the "we" in your messages), your
> >financing, your release schedule, how you are going to distribute and
> >market it.
> We're a (so far) loosely knit group of hackers in Laramie, Wyoming
> who would like to help (and employ!) a blind friend and possibly others
> who are blind or visually impaired. The group overlaps with two others
> doing different open source-basd projects.

Give us names please.  Why remain so vague?

Normally I would not ask such questions of course, I would consider it
impolite.  But you were offering money for rights, that makes it a
different story.  Sure those to whom you make that offer have a
legitimate interest in knowing who you are (or whether you exist at
all), whether you actually have the money and where it's coming from,
and whether you are capable of doing what you set out to do.

Has your blind friend (should he or she exist) tried to use lynx?
If he or she had problems because of "the way Lynx displays and
refreshes", have you directed him/her to this mailing list, to try
to get those problems resolved?  If the only thing you told your
friend is "we're gonna solve this for you after we get funding and
buy licenses and so on" you are not a friend.

> >Yeah, I'm sure foundations and stuff
> >will go for your approach.
> Actually, the organizations we've approached about this like the idea.

They (if they exist and have been approached by you) have probably not
been given the full picture.

> Their charter is to help the disabled by equipping them with necessary
> technology, and while they're currently buying products such as the
> "Jaws" screen reader for Windows, they don't find them to be a very good
> solution for Web browsing. They'd gladly go with something better, and
> we'd like to supply it if we can do it without starving.

If you are in contact with them, and the only way they know how to
help is by buying products, and the only alternative you show them is
buying into your (vapour) product which you end up owning - then I
find your behavior unethical.  They could get the coding done by you
(for appropriate money), or possibly by someone else for free (maybe
just by having someone post to this list), without improbable license
tranfer schemes and other legal hassles, with better product available
in the end to everyone.

I prefer the troll hypothesis.


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