Chris Nandor <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes:

> However, I feel the need to emphasize that licenses are not necessarily
> legal documents.

I think this is a key point of disagreement.  If the license is not a
legal document, it's not a *license*; it may be a statement of permission
or something else somewhat more vague, but a license *is* a legal
document.  From the OED:

2 a A formal, usually a printed or written permission from a constituted
authority to do something, e.g. to marry, to print or publish a book, to
preach, to carry on some trade, etc.; a permit.

> I've stated enough on this already, perhaps, but it is almost enough to
> make me want to have a license that says:

>    I, the author, make no legal claims to this software
>    whatsoever.  But if you call it your own or redistribute
>    it modified under the same name without clearly noting the
>    modifications made, me and my friends will dislike you.

To me, that would be very close to placing the software in the public
domain (although if you were to use a license like that, I would recommend
saying those words to make the legal stance clear), with an accompanying
statement of intent.  I have no problem at *all* with such a license; in
fact, I'm fairly fond of that approach.  But the statement of intent, like
the preamble to the GPL, isn't, strictly speaking, part of the *license*.

> My point is just that law does not have to be related to licenses and
> rights.  Your statements were coming from the perspective that if it
> doesn't pass some court or legal system's idea of valid, then it is
> invalid for anyone to use, and I cannot and will not buy this.

My point is that if it doesn't pass legal muster, the copyright holder
could invalidate the statements of the almost-license and require that
users of the code follow some other standard.  I realize that you aren't
going to do that, but in practice that (to me) means that your code may
not *have* a license, just a statement from you that you don't intend to
sue me for using it in ways that may or may not be strictly legally

As the copyright holder, you can of course grant permission in that
fashion.  And I wholeheartedly agree that for most minor, ordinary sorts
of uses this is entirely sufficient; I'm willing to install and use
software with "trust me licenses".  But I don't think it's a good idea to
ask that of corporations that live in a lawsuit-rich environment; I feel
sorry for people in that situation and want to advocate licenses that make
their lives as easy as possible.

> By all means, if you don't want to discuss these matters, then we won't.
> Just don't use such absolutist language that leads me to believe that
> you are saying that no one can legally use my software if the license is
> "legally vague," because I won't buy it, and I will argue against it.

Okay, that's a fair cop.  I apologize for the absolutism of my language,
and for not expressing myself clearly.

Russ Allbery ([EMAIL PROTECTED])             <>

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