Public Domain Python

William Tanksley wtanksle at
Thu Sep 14 22:25:28 CEST 2000

On Thu, 14 Sep 2000 01:25:51 -0400, Tim Peters wrote:
>[William Tanksley]

>> I had to fight to get my boss to accept Python before; right now there's
>> absolutely zero chance.  Grumble, grumble.  Fortunately, it won't stay in
>> flux forever; all I would have to do is convince him that the then-current
>> license would be stable, in spite of the fact that its owner showed
>> tendancies to change it arbitrarily in the past.

>Well, we hate that the community had to go through this.  We hate that *we*
>had to!  But, Jeez, Billy, *show* them the old and new licenses.

The problem never was the licenses, really.  The problem was twofold: my
boss :-) and the companies behind the license.  My boss raised the usual
question of "who is responsible for support?"  The answer, of course, is
"in the final analysis, we are."

This time it's a little scarier, because what we see is a company which
has NO ongoing responsibity for Python excercising ongoing authority. That
IS frightening, even for me.  They have almost no accountability to their
users now, and will not have any at all in the future -- yet they're
attempting to excercise authority over our use of a tool which we accepted
under very different terms.

>CNRI's has
>a lot more words, but about the only new requirement is for a "brief
>summary" (note that wording is a little different-- and we hope much
>friendlier --than it was before) of changes if you fiddle with the code in
>the Python distribution itself.  These licenses aren't much heavier than
>thin air! promised that all work we do on the Python core will
>remain Open Source, and we're in the process of signing binding legal
>documents so you don't have to take their word (or ours!) on that either.

I *like* BeOpen.  Everything they've done seems to be very much in
everyone's best interests.  I really hope they get their money's worth!

>> Grumble, grumble.

>> I guess I'm glad my employers are not actually looking at Python right
>> now.  If they were they'd probably make us stop using the version we're
>> using now.

>Do they use *any* software, then?  Unless everything you use is pure public
>domain (in the technical sense), a copyright holder can *always* change the
>license on the next release.

Not retroactively.  Under UCITA (the state law which is invoked by the new
license), though, they can.

But that's not the source of the worry; most license holders have to in
the long run answer to their customers.  The trouble here is that this one

>I don't mind fighting potentially winnable battles, but mindless paranoia
>is its own sweet reward.

Yup, and I'm a very rewarded man.  We all take what happiness we can get
out of life...  :-) Seriously, I work in the network security industry,
and my boss is originally from the medical embedded systems industry.  I
think that should speak for itself ;-).

>    selection-and-they-can-sue-for-me-libel<wink>-ly y'rs  - tim

    and-vice-versa-ly y'rs

-William "Billy" Tanksley

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