Re: License issue, and a possible solution

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Vincent wrote:

Actually, I do not believe the heat is because of GPL purism.  It is
because combining it with GPL code or creating any kind of combined
work is a violation of the license.  Also, based on the copyright, any
binary written for X that has internal third party credits, such as in
a pop up window, and does not credit the XFree86 project in the same
place, is in violation of the new license.

Not true. Since the client libraries aren't affected, nothing changes for any X software. The only thing affected is binary-only distributions of the X server itself.


As a distributer of third
party software, you take on this responsibility and are really leaving
your pants down.  If you think a free software group/company/etc won't
turn on you down the road and use any weapons at their disposal
against you if they decide they do not like you for some reason, just
re-visit the Caldera story.  This is why we have chosen to go with the
X.org branch for our projects.



While we don't consider the license a problem (especially w/ the widely unkown fact that the client side libraries aren't affected by the change), we think


See, this is part of the problem.  It would not be widely unknown if
it stated it in the license.  If this is their true intentions, then
why doesn't it?  When you are signing a contract, for example, no
matter what the other party claims their intentions to are, it is what
it says on that piece of paper that counts.  Most of the mainstream
software distributors see this and this is why they immediately
branched.

Sorry, this is too clever for me to grok. "It would not be widely known if it stated it in the license" ??? It is what it states in the license that counts, as far as I know.


In reality the client side libraries ARE affected by the change.  That
is why they make the statement in their license FAQ,

The client libraries would be affected by the change, if in fact they were changing. Since they aren't changing, they're not affected.



    "To avoid issues with application programs such as KDE and GNOME
    and other X-based applications, that are licensed under the GPL,
    the 1.1 license is not being applied to client side libraries."

If the license did not affected them, then they should be able to
apply the license.  Hence, a quote from my earlier posting which was
directed at the XFree86 project:

    "This is essentially saying that all distributions including
    software under the GPL or similar license that is linked to
    XFree86 libraries and includes XFree86 headers will be in
    violation of the copyright, that you realize this, and that you
    are choosing at your own discretion when and where to enforce it."

Not exactly true. They are not chosing where to enforce the change, they are chosing where to enact the change. The way it is worded above seems to accuse them of being hypocrites.


Otherwise, the statement is essentially (from what I understand) true. XFree recognizes that the GPL license is not compatible with the new 1.1 XFree license. To avoid affecting all programs that link against X, they chose where to apply the license.

Even if David Dawes has good intentions, it is just as high of a risk
re-distributing under a copyright that you cannot guarantee compliance
to.

Scenario:

    Let's say the entire free software community accepted the new 1.1
    license and it spread throughout most of the X code over a couple
    of years.  Then a big company such as Microsoft came in and
    offered a few million dollars to buy The XFree86 Project, Inc. and
    they sold out.  Most people do when offered enough to retire on
    the rest of their lives and it would be pocket change for such a
    big company.  Do you think Microsoft would have the best interest
    of the open software community in mind when choosing how to
    exercise the license?  Since X is one of the most integral parts
    of open software and bringing it to the desktop of the average
    user, they would have the entire open source community by the
    balls.

Ok, so what if this happens? As all client libraries are under the original license, nothing would happen if Microsoft bought XFree86. They couldn't go and retroactively change licenses prior to the purchase. So, no program that links to X libraries is affected. The above looks like a lot of FUD to me. Perhaps you can explain, point by point, what the danger would be - and please refer to the text in the actual license.


I also find it interesting that when David Dawes was directly asked in
one of the earlier postings for examples of where the X licenses has
been abused or where anybody had tried to falsely claim credit for the
code, I never saw any reply.  Please feel free to direct me to it if I
overlooked it.  Since author accreditation was their whole excuse for
the license change, I am in question of their true motives.

The whole point is, they'd never know. Who knows if Hummingbird ripped off Xfree code. I dunno. Do you?


If you are questioning their motives, perhaps you can offer a suggestion as to what you think the "real" motives are.

Personally, I really see little need for the new license myself. I don't know what happened to spark it, or why it was made. Frankly, though, I can't see what all the fuss is about. Since I'd rather see Xfree86 in distributions than X.org (as Xfree86 is much more stable at the moment), I would like to see some sort of movement on the license issue. But, still, I think something else that Mr. Dawes said is probably true... and that is, that there were distributions contemplating a change before the license issue came around. I think a lot of people are using the license issue as an excuse - because really, very very litle has changed.

	Kurt Fitzner.
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