Python 2.0b1 is released!

Tim Peters tim_one at
Fri Sep 8 22:04:56 CEST 2000

[posted & mailed]

>> It's a "political" situation only if CNRI and the FSF fail to reach
>> agreement:  please help us make clear to them that resolution
>> is what you want (provided, of course, that you *would* rather see a
>> peaceful resolution than a political circus).

[Bernhard Reiter]
> Of course I just want this to be resolved.

I'm sorry.  I've been at this a couple months already, and am afraid I'm
losing track of who is and isn't insane <wink> -- you're one of the good
guys, and I apologize for implying you *may* prefer this to become (more of)
a mess.

> From what read now I think that we need a python user petition
> which targets CNRI and the FSF.

I don't know what influences the FSF, but I'm pretty sure a petition will
have no impact on CNRI.  Dr. Kahn must be acutely aware already that he's
not winning any popularity contests here, and apparently doesn't care about
that.  Two other tactics, one that will work (if possible) and one that

1. Sure thing:  Make a compelling argument that the CNRI license is
   not compatible with the GPL already.  To be compelling it must be
   based on law; not on the goals of the FSF, or what RMS wants, or
   on what 999,999 out of a million GPL users believe, but solely on
   the texts of the GPL and CNRI license and any relevant case law.
   You'd have to be a lawyer to make this stick, and a good one:  as
   everyone at CNRI will testify, intellectual property law is one of
   Dr. Kahn's long-standing and passionate interests.  He apparently
   won't debate philosophy here, but does care for what the law *is*.

2. Maybe:  What I've suggested before:  If there are specific problems
   that the suspicion of GPL-incompatibility will cause for your
   project, tell him about that very clearly.  CNRI is very fond of
   repeating that everything they do is "in the public interest" or
   "for the public good".  I haven't seen their by-laws, but it may be
   they're *required* to meet that vague standard in order retain tax-
   exempt status in the U.S.  Whatever, Dr. Kahn has shown sensitivity
   to individuals facing specific problems.  If CNRI is creating
   documentable problems for people, "public good" is hard to defend.

> ...
> It is more that I really cannot understand the problem on CNRI's
> part here.

CNRI's laywers tell him his license is already compatible with the GPL.
Picture Dr. Kahn as RMS, but with a different view of the world <0.5 wink>.
A choice-of-law clause is extremely common, at least in American licenses,
and for solid business reasons.  He's loathe to give that up, and especially
not when his laywers tell him there's no need to.  By the way, RMS has said
he has no moral problem with the choice-of-law clause, either:  he views it
as a legal incompatibility.  Dr. Kahn disagrees.  Somebody has to bend, and
neither of these fellows is particularly noted for flexibility when they
feel a principle is at stake.

> Actually I did send mail that I wanted to sign the open letter to
> CNRI, which was crafted here, but I must have missed the result
> of it. :-/

Peter Schneider-Kamp reported that he didn't get a reply.  So much for
petitions <0.3 wink>.  It was also remarkable how few people signed it!

> ...
> Seriously I can understand that,
> but you see that this negociations are in a way political.

Sure -- endlessly talking about what I think will and won't work with CNRI
is nothing if not political maneuvering <wink>.

> So to say: "We will use and work with python anyway at this points.",
> is removing a huge part of pressure.

What pressure?  The paying Python Consortium (which CNRI still runs) members
approved the new license, and Python *development* stopped being CNRI's
concern the day Guido left.  To the extent that CNRI believes they have
*anything* remaining at stake here, they're making clear exactly what that
is by clinging to the choice-of-law clause.  They apparently needed the 1.6
release to meet their own obligations, and withholding that was the only
pressure we could apply.  But we had obligations there too, and held back as
long as we could.  This isn't like, e.g., pressuring Trolltech over Qt:
CNRI isn't in the Python business anymore.  Except that their license
lingers on forever.

> (This is just about tactics in general, again no offense meant,
> I can see that you are concerned about the licensing problem.)

Thanks, and we'll take any tactic we can get <0.9 wink>.

> ...
> No I have not read CNRI' side of it.
> I think I will craft a letter to CNRI asking about this.

Note that Dr. Kahn is reported to be on vacation until the 18th, so don't be
surprised if you don't get a reply for a couple weeks.

> Does anybody have some times on its hand to organise a python
> user petition?

I don't oppose that, but since I doubt it will be effective (unless RMS is
swayed by such things -- ya, right <wink>), I'm not going to take it on

> having-too-many-important-free-software-issue-to-care-about-ly y'rs,
> 	Bernhard

What?  There are programs other than Python out there?!

the-world-may-be-bigger-than-i-thought-...--ly y'rs  - tim

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