Adams, Johnnie W wrote:

>       Well, yesterday, after Bradley M. Kuhn wrote:
>       "I have been talking with Eben Moglen, a prominent law professor at
> Columbia University, and he is willing to help us in developing some
> proposed new versions of the Artistic License."
>       you [Chris Nandor] responded:
>       "That sounds really bad.  The last thing we need in here is a lawyer
> helping us out.  Lawyers should come last."

I do believe that Chris had a valid point in the statement above.

For a complete rework of the AL, we should, only as the last step in each
iteration of the process, ask a lawyer for help.  However, there is no need
to involve the lawyer up-front in the process of developing a new license.

I think that Chris is saying that we should not ask a lawyer to develop a
new license *for* us.  If that is indeed what Chris means, I am in agreement
with him.  (If I have misunderstood you, Chris, please let me know.)

Indeed, most free software licenses *are* developed by programmers, and a
lawyer is used as a "sanity check" at various points in the license's
development to make sure it's legally sound and that it legally means what
the software developers intend it to mean.  Of course, problems will occur
if a lawyer is *never* consulted in the process, but there is no harm in
working up a draft license first and asking for a lawyer's help after the
draft is written.

(Think of it as writing a Last Will and Testament---you can do it on your
 own in a pinch, but it's always better to write a draft and then have a
 lawyer help you rewrite it so it's more legally sound, because it is more
 likely to DWYM when it goes out in the world.)

I believe that the reason Chris responded to me saying "this sounds really
bad", is that he thought I asked Eben: "Write a new AL for us".  This was a
confusion and a miscommunication.  I apologize for not being more clear.

What Eben is now helping me with is *not* to write a new version of the
Artistic License.  Rather, I am working from the assumption that the
*current* AL *is* what we want, and we just need to make it legally sound.
This is *one possible* approach for this working group.

Of course, this working group will likely develop competing proposals, just
as the other working groups have.  This is useful, because this will give
Larry choices when he looks over our work.

The two proposals on which I am currently working are two possible
"path-of-least-resistance" proposals.  My first proposals are trying to
answer the question:

   "How can we keep the AL basically as it is, but make minimal changes to
    make the AL more sound legally and to make it more clear?"

Ben, Chris, and others have started a discussion about this other, equally
valid, approach:

   "If we want to start a new free software license (e.g., the AL, Version
    2.0) from scratch, what do we want it to say?  What should it require?"

I think this discussion is useful too, as a competing proposal.  I hope they
will hash out something and write an RFC that proposes a new license to
replace the AL.  At *that* time, we can ask Eben (and other copyright
lawyers, if we can find some others to help ;) the following questions:

   "Does this license achieve all the goals we want it to achieve?  Is it
    still a free software and open source license?  And, if the answer is
    'no' to either question, what must we change to fix it?"

> The time you want a lawyer involved is when he or she can do you the most
> good, and that's often at the beginning of a project, _before_ you've dug
> yourself into a hole.

This whole process is the "beginning of the project", there is just a very
long beginning because the project is so big.  ;) We will certainly have
lawyers involved in this process.

However, since the time of the lawyers is limited (either because we can't
afford to pay them much, or because they are busy people working only
pro-bono), we have to do some of the up-front work ourselves, and then get
"sanity checks" from copyright lawyers at various stages along the way.

>  There is probably a lawyer out there, somewhere, who _aches_ to see Perl
> prosper and who would do a great job of helping rework the license, just
> on principle.

If you can find such a lawyer, please do ask them to donate their time to
help us.

Bradley M. Kuhn  -

PGP signature

Reply via email to