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Re: [gNewSense-users] Possible problem with closed bug 123

From: Sam Geeraerts
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] Possible problem with closed bug 123
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2008 01:28:32 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla-Thunderbird (X11/20080110)

Paul O'Malley wrote:
hi Sam,

With reference to:

Please read the last part by Colin Watson, I agree with him. We now have several ways to read it as Free.

What Sun's aim was in this matter seems to have been was that a person would not release work downstream and claim it was Sun's, or derived from Sun.

My paraphrasing of what Sun is saying goes as follows - "you may use our work, BUT you _must_ call it your work and cite us as source". That is standard copyright attribution. It is a real pity that the words that Sun used are convoluted enough to cause confusion for some people.

So Sun wants to be acknowledged as the original author, but takes no responsibility for the use of the code in other works. Wouldn't normal one line copyright statement (perhaps with a "no warranties" disclaimer) have sufficed then? I mean, distributing code in Sun's name without their consent is illegal anyway, so I don't see why they put in that whole statement.

In saying this IANAL, however, I have been using English every day of my life since I started talking well over forty years ago.
{ ;-) Some would say I was rambling but that is another matter. }

The fact is that if you really feel that you was some kind of definitive answer you need to ask the right question* of Sun. Neither Brian nor for that matter myself are unhappy with the interpretation. We have discussed this in one of our many phone calls.

The question as far as we are both concerned is answered, questioning the answer is not a bad thing. However questioning the answer without sufficient argument is not going to get anyone to rethink a position.

gNewSense has as a project since Brian and I met up to first discuss it on ICT Expo in the RDS in Dublin Friday 4th May 2006 (nearly two years ago now), made huge strides, this should not be a sticking point.

A correctly formulated question to be asked of Sun would be:
Providing that people give suitable attribution and include your licence, do you prohibit the use of your Sun RPC code complete or in part in other peoples works?

My personal answer:
Does their licence prohibit such use, not that I can see.

I do this by writing out the four freedoms and read the licence to see if it offends any of them.

We are not Debian and use the GDFL which Debian would not, however we do lock out that which is referred to as the advertising clause.

Finally to end this on a slightly upbeat note when dealing with thing like this please remember: The English language is broken and I can't find its bug tracking system to file a bug against it! It appears they keep applying patches and fail to fix the core problem. The problem is made worse Upstream just does not want to know. ;-) Latin developers stopped working on it a couple of thousand years ago - they won't even talk about their work!

I wouldn't say natural languages are (very) broken, they're just not foolproof. You can say what you mean pretty clearly, it just takes some effort do it right. Although 100% unambiguity is probably impossible, because then laywers would not have existed.

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