[Chicago] Capistrano alternatives

Ian Bicking ianb at colorstudy.com
Tue Jan 6 04:46:23 CET 2009

Ted Pollari wrote:
> On Jan 5, 2009, at 3:12 PM, Ian Bicking wrote:
>> 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?)
> It makes complete sense -- because no matter what you *say* you still 
> have the right to bring a lawsuit unless the license is amended/changed 
> and therefore it's a liability.  In the eyes of the law, the license 
> *is* the statement of intent to give up the right to bring suit.  
> Anything else isn't legally binding (heck, even licenses aren't always 
> binding until they're tested.)

I can bring a suit just to be an asshole.  And indeed, such assholery is 
common in some fields and in certain kinds of relationships.  But I feel 
like it is slandering open source communities to imply that it is at all 
common there.  It's not, in no small part because it is a community of 
individuals.  When our relationships are mediated by professional 
figures like lawyers the community standards break down to everyone's 
detriment.  Which is why I don't really like introducing lawyerly advice 
when it's unnecessary.

You do have to be a little careful with the GPL and certain companies. 
MySQL in its day, for instance (not sure if the acquisition makes it 
better or worse).  They have lawyers, paid and trained to be assholes, 
and you need professionals because that's just not in the constitution 
of most people, and we don't get extensive training to rearrange our 

> So, to your question, if you say you're not going to sue me, what more 
> do I need?  Well, I, personally, trust you Ian, probably even enough to 
> stake a good part of my livelihood on that trust, but in general, that's 
> not a sustainable position, at least not when faced with the threat of 
> lawsuits.  It's all about risks and rewards vs. costs.
> In the end, lawyers are like guns -- they're weapons often wielded by 
> people who fail to think before they cause damage.  For the most part, 
> lawyers don't cause issues on their own -- they're always working for 
> someone who wants something.
> Don't go into a room of friends waving a gun around and expect them to 
> remain friends -- but if you don't feel safe, by all means, you may well 
> need one.  Same thing goes with lawyers and threats of lawsuits.

I have recently been thinking of lawyers as the men-at-arms of our era. 
  Some people with weapons use those weapons to protect people.  But 
mostly weapons are used to oppress people.  And I think law in the hands 
of professionals is kind of like this.  Though this modern thuggery 
looks much more civilized of course, it's not like we haven't made *any* 
progress ;)

Sorry, this is all getting more anti-lawyer than I really intended.  I 
like quite a few lawyers personally.  But the institution bothers me. 
It's better than a society ruled by thugs, which is the norm for modern 
societies where the rule of law isn't strong.  But I can only hope this 
is a transitional time.  Open source communities have been ahead on the 
curve on a lot of things, and I'd like to think we can be ahead of the 
curve on this too.

Ian Bicking : ianb at colorstudy.com : http://blog.ianbicking.org

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