[cmucl-imp] Debian bug 821150: problems with the PCL license [resend]

Michael McDonald mikemac at mikemac.com
Sat Jun 11 15:59:01 UTC 2016

[Using the right Email account this time to reply - Mike]

If whoever is making a stink about that clause can’t distinguish between a requirement and a request, then there’s not much hope of a successful resolution. I’d think the “Any distribution of this software or derivative works MUST comply with all applicable United States export control laws” clause would be a much bigger issue as it actually states a requirement that “limits” your “freedom” per the way the DFSG FAQ explains their thinking..

So specifically, DFSG 12-A-a “Send me a postcard if you like this software” is probably the what someone is using. This phrasing is a requirement because it’s worded as something that’s not optional.

But, 12-A-d says “(But a request rather than a demand is fine.)” is OK. So the Xerox request should be fine.

If they won’t accept it for whatever inconsistent reasoning, then your options are

1)  Don’t use PCL anymore and replace or rewire it with something you hope they’ll like better

2) Replace the CMUCL version with the SBCL version.

3) Realize you can’t can’t please everyone and give up on Debian

Personally, from a strict legal point of view (I’m not a lawyer either. But my Dad was a contracts lawyer who’s legal thinking rubbed off on us), I’d think #2 would be full of potential problems. Not that I think Xerox would come looking for you. 

Anyway, your best hope is to point out “is requested” is a request and not a demand and that makes the license acceptable under their philosophy as explained in 12-A-d. And 12-A-b.

Michael McDonald
mikemac at mikemac.com

> On Jun 11, 2016, at 7:38 AM, Raymond Toy <toy.raymond at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>>> "Peter" == Peter Van Eynde <pvaneynd at mailworks.org> writes:
>    Peter> Hello Michael and friends,
>    Peter> On 10/06/16 17:53, Michael McDonald wrote:
>>> What’s the problem with the clause? Since it’s a “request”,
>>> it’s completely optional. So essentially a no op.
>    Peter> "I am not a lawyer" and "English is not my native
>    Peter> language", but for example the text "Send me a postcard if
>    Peter> you like this software.", which to me sounds like an even
>    Peter> more vague request, has been declared as problematic. As I
>    Peter> understand it if the license were to use rfc2119 then there
>    Peter> would be less of a problem, but standard English is too
>    Peter> vague.
>    Peter> See also https://people.debian.org/~bap/dfsg-faq.html
>>> But I personally wouldn’t be changing someone else’s license
>>> clauses without very explicit permission to do so. I’d probably
>>> just put a note below the license documenting that the contact
>>> info is dead as of whatever date you tried.
>    Peter> Agreed, however as Stas noted the SBCL people just removed
>    Peter> the clause as it is 'dead'. Adding a note would not help
> It wasn't removed. It got moved somewhere else. SBCL still has the
> same problem.  Seems really disingenous to say cmucl will be removed
> because of the clause but sbcl will not.
> You can't just go willy-nilly changing other people's licenses.
> --
> Ray, who is not a lawyer.
> _______________________________________________
> cmucl-imp mailing list
> cmucl-imp at lists.zs64.net
> https://lists.zs64.net/mailman/listinfo/cmucl-imp

More information about the cmucl-imp mailing list