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[Gnu-arch-users] Re: arch and linux 2.7

From: John Goerzen
Subject: [Gnu-arch-users] Re: arch and linux 2.7
Date: Fri, 07 Nov 2003 08:31:43 -0600
User-agent: Gnus/5.1002 (Gnus v5.10.2) XEmacs/21.4 (Reasonable Discussion, linux)

"Stephen J. Turnbull" <address@hidden> writes:

>     >> What's your point?  The BKL I'm looking at imposes no
>     >> conditions regarding use of other SCM products.
>     John> You've got the wrong license.  We're talking about the Free
>     John> Use License, which is here:
>     John>
>     John> Section 3(d) says:
>        (d)  Notwithstanding any other terms in this License, this
>             License is not available to You if  You  and/or  your
>             employer  develop,  produce,  sell,  and/or  resell a
>             product which contains substantially similar capabil-
>             ities  of  the BitKeeper Software, or, in the reason-
>             able opinion of BitMover, competes with the BitKeeper
>             Software.
> What makes you think that's not the license I was looking at?  Those
> were exactly the words I was looking at.  I _still_ find no instances
> of the word "use" or its synonyms in that passage.  Where are they?

For me, and for many in the free software community, there is no clear
distinction between "use" and "develop".  For instance, I do not
consider myself an Arch hacker.  Yet I have contributed 64-bit
patches, written three separate tla utilitity programs, etc.  My
involvement with Subversion was similar.  From looking at this group,
I'd say that this behavior is not uncommon from Arch users.

The vagueness of the clause above is enough to make this a violation.

>     John> Really, this means that
> Are you a lawyer, that anybody should give weight to your unsupported
> opinion about the "real meaning" of a legal document?

No, but I'm not aware that anyone else in this thread is either.

>     John> if Larry decides you "compete", you are out.  So in the
>     John> example of a Debian developer, Larry could decide that
>     John> Debian competes, and take out all Debian developers if he
>     John> likes.
> Wrong on four points.  First, you have implicitly equated "use other

See above.

> Second, with respect to the more plausible contention that "Debian
> developers" en masse are disqualified because Debian distributes CVS
> and svn, that license does not allow Larry to decide that _you_
> compete.  It allows Larry to decide that a _software product_
> competes.  He must then establish that you or your employer are
> "developing, producing, selling, or reselling" _that software product_
> or he may not invoke paragraph 3(d).
> It might actually be non-trivial to prove that Debian as a distro
> develops, produces, sells, or resells other SCMs in the legal meaning
> of those words; I don't know.  It's surprising how often the law

Then we have to err on the side of caution.  Even if that is the case,
a lengthy court battle with Larry would probably be as expensive, if
not more so, as actually buying the comercial version, so he wins
either way.

> Third, you are ignoring the word "reasonable".  That word is defined
> by the courts and any applicable legislation, not by Larry or
> Bitmover's lawyers.  Ie, Debian undoubtedly produces configuration

It is?  Exactly how is it defined?  To me, that sounds extremely vague
-- as long as they can come up with a justification, they're OK.

> Fourth, to the best of my knowledge, Debian has _no_ employees.  If so,
> only Debian developers directly involved in the SCM packages are at
> any risk of being denied use under the soi-disant "free use" license.
> Combining those four points, I think that Debian users are at zero
> risk of not qualifying for the "free use" license, and the risk to
> Debian developers in general infinitesimal.

We have one Debian developer, Ben Collins, that has already been
threatened by Larry and had his Bitkeeper free use license revoked.

Moreover, there is another danger: if I work for a large company, they
may be developing products that compete with Bitkeeper in some other
department that I don't even know about.   I could then be liable for
a $100,000+ license violation fee, or have my free use license

-- John

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