[Python-Dev] Re: Conflict with the GPL

Guido van Rossum license-py20@beopen.com
Sun, 03 Sep 2000 09:03:46 -0500

> bob weiner wrote:    
> > We are doing a lot of work at BeOpen with CNRI to get them to allow
> > the GPL as an alternative license across the CNRI-derived parts of the
> > codebase.  /.../  We at BeOpen want GPL-compatibility and have pushed
> > for that since we started with any Python licensing issues.

Fredrik Lundh replied:
> my understanding was that the consortium members agreed
> that GPL-compatibility was important, but that it didn't mean
> that a licensing Python under GPL was a good thing.
> was dual licensing discussed on the consortium meeting?

Can't remember, probably was mentioned as one of the considered
options.  Certainly the consortium members present at the meeting in
Monterey agreed that GPL compatibility was important.

> is the consortium (and this mailing list) irrelevant in this
> discussion?

You posted a +0 for dual licensing if it was the *only* possibility to
reach GPL-compatibility for future Python licenses.  That's also my
own stance on this.

I don't believe I received any other relevant feedback.  I did see
several posts from consortium members Paul Everitt and Jim Ahlstrom,
defending the choice of law clause in the CNRI license and explaining
why the GPL is not a gret license and why a pure GPL license is
unacceptable for Python; I take these very seriously.

Bob Weiner and I talked for hours with Kahn on Friday night and
Saturday; I talked to Stallman several times on Saturday; Kahn and
Stallman talked on Saturday.  Dual licensing really was the *only* way
to reach an agreement.  So I saw no way out of the impasse except to
just do it and get it over with.

Kahn insisted that 1.6final be released before 2.0b1 and 2.0b1 be made
a derived work of 1.6final.  To show that he was serious, he shut off
our login access to python.org and threatened with legal action if we
would proceed with the 2.0b1 release as a derived work of 1.6b1.  I
don't understand why this is so important to him, but it clearly is.
I want 2.0b1 to be released (don't you?) so I put an extra effort in
to round up Stallman and make sure he and Kahn got on the phone to get
a resolution, and for a blissful few hours I believed it was all done.

Unfortunately the fat lady hasn't sung yet.

After we thought we had reached agreement, Stallman realized that
there are two interpretations of what will happen next:

    1. BeOpen releases a version for which the license is, purely and
    simply, the GPL.

    2. BeOpen releases a version which states the GPL as the license,
    and also states the CNRI license as applying with its text to part
    of the code.

His understanding of the agreement (and that of his attorney, Eben
Moglen, a law professor at NYU) was based on #1.  It appears that what
CNRI will explicitly allow BeOpen (and what the 1.6 license already
allows) is #2.  Stallman will have to get Moglen's opinion, which may
take weeks.  It's possible that they think that the BeOpen license is
still incompatible with the GPL.  In that case (assuming it happens
within a reasonable time frame, and not e.g. 5 years from now :-) we
have Kahn's agreement to go back to the negotiation table and talk to
Stallman about possible modifications to the CNRI license.  If the
license changes, we'll re-release Python 1.6 as 1.6.1 with the new
license, and we'll use that for BeOpen releases.  If dual-licensing is
no longer needed at that point I'm for taking it out again.

> > > BTW, anybody got a word from RMS on whether the "choice of law"
> > > is really the only one bugging him ?
> >
> > Yes, he has told me that was the only remaining issue.
> what's the current status here?  Guido just checked in a new
> 2.0 license that doesn't match the text he posted here a few
> days ago.  Most notable, the new license says:
>     3. Instead of using this License, you can redistribute and/or modify
>     the Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License as
>     published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2, or (at
>     your option) any later version.  For a copy of the GPL, see
>     http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html.
> on the other hand, another checkin message mentions agreement
> between CNRI and the FSF.  did they agree to disagree?

I think I've explained most of this above.  I don't recall that
checkin message.  Which file?  I checked the cvs logs for README and
LICENSE for both the 1.6 and 2.0 branch.

Anyway, the status is that 1.6 final is incompatible with the GPL and
that for 2.0b1 we may or may not have GPL compatibility based on the
dual licensing clause.

I'm not too happy with the final wart.  We could do the following:
take the dual licensing clause out of 2.0b1, and promise to put it
back into 2.0final if it is still needed.  After all, it's only a
beta, and we don't *want* Debian to put 2.0b1 in their distribution,
do we?  But personally I'm of an optimistic nature; I still hope that
Moglen will find this solution acceptable and that this will be the
end of the story.

--Guido van Rossum (home page: http://www.pythonlabs.com/~guido/)