[Chicago] to lawer or not Was: something unrelated

Carl Karsten carl at personnelware.com
Tue Jan 6 01:49:31 CET 2009

Ian Bicking wrote:
> Martin Maney wrote:
>> On Sun, Jan 04, 2009 at 07:25:24PM -0600, Ian Bicking wrote:
>>> Lawyers are bullshit.
>> Not half as bullshit as asking a bunch of non-lawyers for legal advice,
>> which I was trying to avoid saying in so many words.  <wink>
>>> The ABSOLUTE WORST CASE is that the developers of Fabric will be
>>> annoyed that you are using their code in a closed source system, and
>>> they'll ask you to open your code or stop using Fabric.  If you are a
>> Are you the copyright owner of Fabric?  I truly have no idea.  If you
>> aren't, this is, yes, in line with the usual outcome, but it's also
>> just so much hot air if you cannot speak for them.
> It's in line with all past disputes about GPL violations.  I don't know 
> of any exceptions, I pay attention to such cases, and there really 
> aren't that many disputes total around the GPL.  Given consistency among 
> *all* past experiences, it's reasonable to make predictions about future 
> risks.
> Also, I'm far more capable of predicting how a developer will respond 
> than most lawyers.  Perhaps because lawyers give proper lawyerly advice, 
> which means they have to cover their butts, and I'm giving free, without 
> warrantee, disinterested (well, somewhat disinterested) advice based on 
> reasonable predictions of risk.

I am pretty sure you are breaking the law.  If you doubt me, I will find some 
support for this.

This does not mean I don't want to hear your opinion.  It helps me decide how 
much I want to worry about these things.   I am using some gpl code as part of a 
  BSDed project.  so far it is just a dependency, but the upcoming python 
bindings haven't been done yet, and I may have to patch/fork the code, which 
probably is not quite right, and I will send a "do you care?" to the author, but 
I would think when he sees what I am doing there won't be any problem.

Reportlab won't use gpl code in it's code base, so I sent an email to the author 
of the code asking if they would release it under whatever reportlab folks 
wanted.  Some people suggest they are being over cautious.

>> I may have read too much into the OP's query - whether justified or
>> not, I thought there might be commercial considerations involved
>> (perhaps since he said he'd read the GPL, which so few bother to do).
>> But I'm saddened to see you suggesting, apparently, that he should just
>> do what he wants to and not worry about violating a license since it
>> won't cost him much.  BTW, if he's invested a good deal of time and
>> effort in setting things up using Fabric and has some compelling reason
>> not to choose the "GPL everything" solution, then that cost could turn
>> out not to be so small after all...
> You *never* have to GPL everything in response to the GPL.  If you are 
> distributing encumbered code to other people, you may have to 
> disencumber it.  I suppose it's possible that the people receiving the 
> code might actually force you to do so -- I haven't really heard of 
> this, but that party would be more justified in asserting their rights 
> than the Fabric license holders.  That party would probably be your 
> paying customers, and so if you are giving them royalty-free rights to 
> your code it wouldn't be a big deal anyway.
>>> then you might also burn some social capital.  That's all you risk, 
>>> and  if you ask the Fabric people up front how they interpret the GPL 
>>> then  you don't even risk that.  Any other prediction is simply false.
>> That's a good point - a clear statement of how the copyright holders
>> interpret the specific application would be a fine idea.  A good lawyer
>> might have suggested this.
> I've gotten weird pushback from lawyers that statements of my intent 
> aren't meaningful compared the license itself (despite the LGPL and GPL 
> often being unclear anyway).  I read this as bullshit, and it's made me 
> wary of lawyers as good predictors of legal issues.  (If you ask me 
> about my licensing, and I say I'm not going to sue you, what more do you 
> need?)

If I cared enough to ask, I would care enough to get it in writing. and it would 
be a waste of time if the writing wasn't something I felt was properly written, 
which I am not qualified to gauge, so I would hire someone who was.

>>> Lawyers probably won't tell you this, which is why you shouldn't ask 
>>> a  lawyer.
>> Well, Sturgeon's Law, sure.  I guess it can be hard to find a *good*
>> lawyer.  :-/
> Which is why I think "ask a lawyer" is mostly stop energy, not really 
> constructive.  It's just not going to happen, or if it does then the 
> lawyer will just add more stop energy.  The law is *our* law, it doesn't 
> belong to lawyers, and people shouldn't have to constantly defer to 
> professionals.

Um... I own my pipes and the tree, but when the two conspire against me I call a 
professional.   Joe plumber owns a computer.  If Joe wants a program written, 
shouldn't he defer to a professional?

Carl K

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