[Python-Dev] License cleanup

Guido van Rossum guido@CNRI.Reston.VA.US
Wed, 15 Sep 1999 14:43:56 -0400

[David Ascher]
> Guido, maybe it would make sense to explain the need for a license change.
> Is my understanding correct that the occasion for the license change is
> that the copyright is now clearly shifting to CNRI, and as a result CNRI
> has to forge a license?  (BTW, I thought *you* had the copyright transfer 
> from CWI, not CNRI).

Correct on both counts.

CWI owns the copyright on old Python versions through Python 1.2.  I
have personally obtained non-exclusive rights to these from CWI.

CNRI, by nature of my employment contract, has the copyright on newer

CNRI feels the need to protect its intellectual property rights.  It
feels that the old Python license, even with CNRI added, does not
adequately protect CNRI against certain (unlikely) events -- hence the 
desire to draft a new license.

CNRI understands that open source (and now Open Source -- the OSI
board has approved the old Python license!) like Python requires
different licensing terms than a typical product developed solely by

I think that the main problem is that CNRI's understanding of what
truly constritutes open source is limited, and that my own
understanding of legal issues is limited, so that the negotiations
with CNRI's legal department (which is headed by CNRI's director)
often turn in their favor.

I hereby withdraw the posted license.  There still is the need for a
new license, but we need to go back to the drawing board for it.  The
CWI ownership of much of the code probably means that the license as
it stands doesn't hold anyway.

I also think that the Python consortium has a say in the license
discussion -- the consortium agreement actually discusses the
ownership of intellectual property produced by/for the consortium at
some length.

--Guido van Rossum (home page: http://www.python.org/~guido/)