[linux-elitists] The breadth of SCO's claims

Karsten M. Self kmself@ix.netcom.com
Fri Jun 27 12:57:16 PDT 2003

on Fri, Jun 27, 2003 at 01:50:39PM -0400, Aaron Sherman (ajs@ajs.com) wrote:
> On Fri, 2003-06-27 at 10:50, Karsten M. Self wrote:
> About sending to you+list... sorry. That's what I always do because some
> people sort mail differently based on who it was sent to, and I really
> was responding to YOU. I'll try to remember your preference, though.

I *strongly* discourage private responses to list mail, particularly for
general questions.  It borders on extremely rude.  Often on the far

Note that this isn't what you did.  CC's are largely annoying.  Moreso
as my current procmail ruleset isn't handling them properly, though it

> > > As far as I know, you cannot distribute a work under two licenses
> > > at the same time without (as Perl does) allowing the recipient to
> > > choose between them (either circumstantially or by preference). 
> > 
> > This is grossly incorrect.
> > 
> > As a trivial example, virtually all proprietary software is governed by
> > a highly complex web of inter-relating licenses.  The recipient has no
> > option to chose which terms s/he wishes to apply.
> I think you mis-read my comment. I was not saying "if there's more
> than one license you get to choose," 

Nor was I.

> I was saying that you cannot recieve a copyrighted work under more
> than one license,


A license is terms under which you are granted additional writes, other
than those governed by such doctrines as Fair Use, First Sale, etc., in
a work.

Those rights must be communicated to you from _either_ the rightsholder,
_or_ an authorized agent of same.

Before you launch off into this, I'm curious at what makes you think
that there cannot be multiple, possibly conflicting, claims to a single
property.  Looking at real, rather than IP claims, this isn't
tremendously different in concept from the idea of multiple creditors or
lienholders to a property.

> There may be 200 licenses involved in a piece of software, but I'm only
> a party to the license that I agree to in accepting the software, 


If the party providing the work to you was authorized to state single
terms, sure.

However there's nothing to keep an aggrieved party, for example
<coff>SCO</coff>, from _asserting_ (justifiabily or otherwise)
additional rights to a given work (say, AIX), despite your direct
dealings with, say, IBM.

> In the case of the BSD license, you would have to take into account its
> terms, and pass along those terms in your license (e.g. reproduction of
> the copyright / licensing notice), and since you're required to
> distribute it, I would consider it an adendum to your license. It's not
> a separate license, so you can't use it to get around the terms of the
> license on the overall work. That's a very important point, and one that
> prorpietary software companies care deeply about!

It's probably the single significant point.

More explicitly, having done this dance with proprietary firms
considering open source / free software licensing, it is specifically
the multiple claims on a signle work, and untangling these claims, which
has the greatest direct impact on the viability of releasing a product.
IBM, to raise the example again, is burdened by code owned by Microsoft
in OS/2, which effectively prevents OS/2 from ever seeing light of day
as a free software product (flipside:  Microsoft likely has similar
encumberances, and it would be interesting to contemplate such rights
being aquired through corporate M&A by various parties).

Other projects, notably OpenOffice.org and Mozilla, had to go through
extensive cleansing and rights clearing to be released as free software
projects, and significant portions of the non-free code never made it
out (for the most part these were reimplemented later, often by the free
software community).

> However, on the flip-side, licensing is just a contract. If you
> separate that contract from the concept of ownership, 

Can't be done.

The contract states the rights of ownership explicitly granted you.
Barring ownership (or authorization by the owner), these rights are not
there to be given.

One simplistic definition of ownership or proprietary interest is
simiply:  the legal right to deny access or use to a property.

> you will see that that guy who wrote license #1 (say, the BSD license)
> and distributed his software under it, is your "partner" in ownership,
> and nowhere in his contract with you did he grant you the right to
> contract with others over derivative works! That's absolutely key

You're ranting, Aaron.

The BSD license allows "redistribution and use in source and binary
forms, with or without modification".  This is predicated on the three
requirements, and only the three requirements, of the license.
Additional terms (e.g.:  incorporation within a work licensed under
differing, but compatible, terms) is thus specifically allowed.

> Now, we can INTERPRET the part about re-distribution to mean that you
> can apply your own license 


Full stop.


> Ditto, except for the YADA ;-)

"Yet another disclaimer added".


Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    In his dream he was walking late at night along the East Side,
    beside the river which had become so extravagantly polluted that new
    lifeforms were now emerging from it spontaneously, demanding welfare
    and voting rights.
    -- HHGTG
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