Public Domain Python

Tim Peters tim_one at
Sat Sep 16 09:24:26 CEST 2000

[William Tanksley]
> ...
> Well, if they [CNRI] can't retroactively change licenses in the future,
> than why are they being allowed to change them retroactively now?

Sorry, but I don't know where you get the idea that they are.  They've made
vague noises about their putative ability to *terminate* rights under the
CWI license (see the License FAQ), but nothing about changing the terms.

> Why isn't BeOpen basing 2.0 off of 1.5.2 instead of 1.6, to avoid
> the legal wrangling?

For one thing, Python would have lost 16 months of intense community work by
backtracking to 1.5.2.  For another, Guido et alia, as former employees of
CNRI, are in a much more complex situation wrt CNRI than anyone else (incl.
me).  The decision to derive 2.0 from 1.6 was the result of a massively
messy set of tradeoffs, and I'm afraid much of that happened before I got
here so I can't spell them all out.  You may have noticed that I don't
believe what anyone *tells* me <0.9 wink> -- I wasn't here then, & I really
don't know everything that went into it.

> Do you see how frightening this looks?

That I do.  But most people have gotten over it by now, and I certainly
appreciate your efforts at keeping everyone frightened <wink>.

> Add in the fact that the term most under dispute specifies a UCITA state,
> a state in which software licenses are RIDICULOUSLY slanted in favor of
> copyright owners and against licensees, and you see another reason to
> worry.

Read the license, Billy.  Talk to a lawyer (*we* certainly have).  Find a
basis for assigning probabilities to these fears.

> ...
> ...and, thinking like my boss, I won't take the risk -- I'll go with a
> language without the risk, like Perl.

Then someday I expect you're going to rethink your notion of risk <0.9

> And it *looks* like a serious risk; after all, the community *appears* to
> be allowing them to change the licenses of 1.3 through 1.5.x

Again, I don't know where you get the idea that CNRI is doing this.  I don't
have any trouble understanding why you think the community is passive,
though -- they overwhelmingly are.  I expect that most who actually read the
license went "huh -- looks pretty good!".

they-should-have-seen-the-first-draft<wink>-ly y'rs  - tim

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