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Re: clickthrough license

From: Per Bothner
Subject: Re: clickthrough license
Date: Mon, 04 Oct 2004 11:22:38 -0700
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; PPC Mac OS X Mach-O; en-US; rv:1.7.2) Gecko/20040803

Mark Wielaard wrote:

Programmers will use published books
or publicly published articles to write their programs, so we better
make sure we are at least compatible with what they use/expect.

Programmers will use Sun's JavaDoc-generated API documents.  If anyone
reports a bug, that is what they will refer to.

It is pretty clear. Use public documentation, which doesn't need you to
consent to any additional click-through terms, as primary source when
working on GNU Classpath, preferably books.

There is often no such documentation.  Most book are tutorial, not
reference works that are anywhere close to comprehensive, or are out
of date.  There is one Swing book I know (O'Reilly's) that attempts
to cover the APIs systematicaly, for example, but even it is surely
insufficient for a useful independent implementation.

Sun's documentation license for 1.5 is quite unclear in what it
covers.  For example a literal reading seems to prohibit writing
books or articles about the JDK.  (It is neither "developing
application" or an "independent implementation".)  In that case,
is it safe to depend on books and articles that may be the result of unpermitted actions?

It seems to me the license restricts how you use and distribute the
specification itself.  However, it cannot as a matter of copyright
law restrict the ideas or concepts of the specification, or prevent
us from learning from it.  It could make such restrictions under
trade secret law, but it would be nonsense to claim as a trade
secret something freely available on the web.

So the real concerns are any patents Sun may have, plus the trademarks
Sun may have.  But none of those are affected by whether or not we
read Sun's specifications.

Of course I would like a lawyer (and specifically Eben Moglen) to
evaluate this analysis.  Perhaps I'm wrong in dismising the
specification as a trade secret, for example.

FSF Legal will always advise not to take any unnessecary risks that
might endanger the (perceived) free software status of a GNU project.

Right, but even if reading the specification is a risk, I suspect it
falls into the "necessary" category.
        --Per Bothner

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