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Re: Artistic License 2.0 RC1

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Allison Randal
June 2, 2006 18:10
Re: Artistic License 2.0 RC1
Message ID:
mock wrote:
> What's the diff from the last version?

- Tweaked the wording of the "Original License" definition in the 
Artistic License to make it clearer that it's talking about the copy of 
the license shipped with the Package (i.e. the license isn't 
auto-updating) and added an entry to the FAQ to explain this.

- Clarified the Artistic FAQ on the patent clause.

- Added some language about future patents to the CLA.

> I think the following questions need to be clearly answered and put into the
> faq:
> Can I re-license a modified version under the GPL v2? Why?

Yes. Because GPL v2 satisfies the requirements of clause 4(c)(ii).

> - If I can, then OpenBSD will likely do so, and offer perl under those terms.

Since Perl is currently dual-licensed under the GPLv2, he wouldn't be 
doing anything particularly exciting there.

> Can I re-license a modified version under the Artistic v1 license? Why?

No. In practical terms, Artistic 2.0 is a "bug fix" version of the 
Artistic License, and we don't really want people to keep using Artistic 
1.0, any more than we want people using Perl 5.6.0. In legal terms, 
Artistic 1.0 is a less restrictive license than Artistic 2.0 (see the 
answer to the next question), so only the original author (the 
"Copyright Holder") can relicense Artistic 2.0 code under Artistic 1.0.

> Can I include code from a GPL v2 project? Why?

No, you can't include code from a GPL (1 or 2 or 3) project in an 
Artistic licensed package. Because the Artistic License (1.0 or 2.0) is 
a less restrictive license than GPL (1 or 2 or 3). That is, if you 
distributed GPL'd code under the Artistic License, you would be giving 
away rights that the original author never gave you. The most obvious 
example of this is the fact that the Artistic License allows proprietary 
versions, but the GPL does not.

> - This sucks if provision 13 prevents me from linking to GPL v2 libraries
>   as there are many of them that are very useful, and unlikely to change 
>   license.  

It doesn't prevent you from linking to GPL libraries (in any version). 
It only prevents you from absorbing GPL code into a package and 
distributing that GPL code under an Artistic License. (You couldn't do 
this under Artistic 1.0 either.)

 >   It would be nice if the FSF could answer this question, as they
 >   are pretty much the authoritative source of info on what is
 >   compatible with the GPL.

We got the FSF/SFLC involved early in the process. (You may not know, 
but Bradley Kuhn, who was Executive Director of the FSF for many years, 
was largely responsible for the first draft of Artistic 2.0 during the 
Perl 6 RFC process.)

The FSF's definition of compatibility is all about upstream 
compatibility: what licenses can be included in GPL'd code. Artistic 2.0 
meets this measure of GPL compatibility through clause 4(c)(ii).

The FSF doesn't care about downstream compatibility: whether you can 
include GPL'd code in a package under some license other than the GPL. 
The only license that is downstream compatible with the GPL is the GPL. 
This is an intentional choice by the FSF. (Potentially, someone could 
invent a license with exactly the same terms as the GPL but different 
wording, and it would be possible to distribute GPL code under that 
license. But there wouldn't be much point.)

> Can I include code from an Artistic v1 licensed project? Why?

Yes. Because the terms of Artistic 2.0 are the same as Artistic 1.0, 
aside from the added patent clause. That means Artistic 2.0 is a more 
restrictive license than Artistic 1.0 (it gives away fewer rights), so 
any Artistic 1.0 code can be distributed as Artistic 2.0.

> - Obviously if I can't do this makes using old perl bits harder unless the 
>   author can be tracked down and convinced to relicense.  I'm pretty sure this
>   is obviously yes, but it would be good to have that stated in the faq, so I
>   can point lawyers/bosses/clients to it.

We'll work on an addition to the FAQ.

> What is the status of code that was distributed by someone who has lost their
> license under provision 13?  Example: If I received a modified perl from SCO
> under the Artistic v2 license, am I allowed to distribute that code if SCO
> later files patent litigation, losing their license (assuming that I am 
> otherwise in compliance myself)?  Why?

You would have to cease distribution. Or, more practically, you would 
have to go download a legal version of Perl from your nearest CPAN 
mirror and use it instead.

(If the company you're getting your open source packages from has such 
poor judgment that it starts attacking open source projects or attacking 
people for using open source code, it's probably a good idea to distance 
yourself from the company anyway.)

> - This has the potential to taint the work of people down the chain of
>   distribution, causing all sorts of mess.

So does the GPL, by requiring downstream users to distribute their 
modified source code. But, they do it for a very specific purpose: to 
promote the freedom of the code and the freedom of their users.

Revoking someone's license to use the software is an inconvenience. But 
then, that someone would have already caused a pretty huge inconvenience 
by filing patent litigation against one of our users for using our 
software. The point is to make it inconvenient for the someone who 
started the mess too, and so encourage them to respect the freedom of 
our users.


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