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Re: Automake: use of modified Perl modules & GPL

From: Elaine -HFB- Ashton
Subject: Re: Automake: use of modified Perl modules & GPL
Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2001 10:19:08 -0500
User-agent: Mutt/1.2.5i

Russ Allbery address@hidden quoth:
*>you're already worrying about.  I'm just pointing out that if you believe
*>there is something in this archiving process that incurs legal liability,
*>being an ostrich about licensing isn't protecting you from it.

In the days of litigation and one-click patents, anything is possible. 
People have sued for hot coffee being hot. It's hard not to think about
such 'worst case' scenarios. 

*>I believe that the legal liability of the archive maintainers is precisely
*>the same whether you ask for explicit license statements or not.  I pulled
*>out and objected specifically to your previous statement because it
*>sounded like it was partly based on the widespread but entirely inaccurate
*>belief that filtering submissions by some criteria incurs additional legal

I believe I raised an issue with a particular module a while back and we
sought a professional legal opinion on the matter. As far as I am aware,
the CPAN mirror falls under the 'common carrier' umbrella [ ]. I would also think that going
through CPAN and making certain everything had a license, etc. would
increase our liability in these matters. Again, I am not a lawyer nor do I
play one on TV so unless someone decides to rain on our parade, we
probably won't change our policy or lack thereof on licensing. 

*>There may be good arguments against doing what RMS is asking for.  Legal
*>liability is not one of them.

P5P erupts into a flamefest when someone mentions making -w mandatory so
how would you think forcing licensing on people would go over? I'll buy
the popcorn if you lob that incendiary bomb that over the wall. :)

*>No one is proposing that.  No one has said anything about requiring people
*>use some particular license.  What was proposed was to ask people to make
*>explicit what licensing terms they prefer.  This is not the same thing.

I saw the word 'require' a few times. My apologies if I somehow got the
wrong impression.

*>This is not the first time an issue over licensing has been raised.

Sometimes people write to us to ask about a particular license, but this
is the first time I'm aware of that anyone has suggested making the
statement of copyright/license mandatory. 

*>I think that Schwen is unfortunately incorrect on this point from a legal
*>perspective, but you're both certainly entitled to your opinion.

Well, for grins  I looked to see how you license your modules. Your
license/copyright statement is in the README, not the POD so after the
module is installed, the license statement disappears [ unless the user
keeps the source dir around ]. The user, in the future will either need to
find the source dist for that version again or email the author to clarify
the license terms. I don't see how this is different than not stating your
license explicitly in the POD.

*>I agree with you that it's mostly just an education effort.  Checking
*>perlmodlib, I'm glad to see that it already talks about licensing
*>(although under the heading of a copyright statement, which is mildly
*>inaccurate).  I'll try to write a patch clarifying that and will send it
*>to p5p later this weekend.

:) Noone likes thinking about licensing since it's not much fun and it's
really not our bailiwick. A lot of Perl people take the 'same terms as
Perl' to be rather implicit so, perhaps explaining why this isn't so would
be productive. Writing code is supposed to be fun, not some droll exercise
in copyright law. 

Something standard would be good too as getting search.cpan to index 
licenses would be far less painful that way. It's a fine idea, but since 
there is no standard way to do this at the moment, I'd probably have to go 
through much of CPAN manually to double-check for accuracy. 

*>Consider it a feature request and prioritize it accordingly?  :)

deal :) I'll even put a slide on this topic in my talk at TPC. 


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