[Python-Dev] license issues with profiler.py and md5.h/md5c.c

"Martin v. Löwis" martin at v.loewis.de
Sat Feb 12 00:57:40 CET 2005

Phillip J. Eby wrote:
> I personally can't see how taking the reasonable interpretation of a 
> public domain declaration can lead to any difficulties, but then, 

The ultimate question is whether we could legally relicense such
code under the Python license, ie. remove the PD declaration, and
attach the Python license to it. I'm sure somebody would come along
and claim "you cannot do that, and because you did, I cannot use
your code, because it is not legally trustworthy"; people would
say the same if the PD declaration would stay around.

It is important for us that our users (including our commercial
users) trust that Python has a clear legal track record. For such
users, it is irrelevant whether you think that a litigation of
the actual copyright holder would have any chance to stand in court,
or whether such action is even likely.

So for some users, replacing RSA-copyrighted-and-licensed code
with PD-declared-and-unlicensed code makes Python less trustworthy.
Clearly, for Debian, it is exactly the other way 'round. So I
have rejected the patch, preserving the status quo, until a properly
licensed open source implementation of md5 arrives. Until then,
Debian will have to patch Python.

> But again, IANAL, certainly not a famous one like Mr. Rosen.  I *am* 
> most curious to know why his article seems to imply that a promise not 
> to sue someone for copyright infringement isn't a valid defense against 
> such a suit

It might be, but that is irrelevant for open source projects that
include contributions. Either they don't care too much about such
things, in which case anything remotely "free" would be acceptable,
or they are very nit-picking, in which case you need a good record
for any contribution you ever received.


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