Public Domain Python

Huaiyu Zhu hzhu at
Thu Sep 28 00:45:45 CEST 2000

On Wed, 27 Sep 2000 17:06:53 -0400, Tim Peters <tim_one at> wrote:
>Just a couple here:
>[Huaiyu Zhu]
>> ...
>> It doesn't look to me like the CNRI licencing issue is similar.  Otherwise
>> why do people spending so much time here discussing it?
>It's Usenet <0.5 wink>.  Speculation is rampant, and people generally don't
>bother to check any facts.  I remain convinced that most people haven't even
>read the licenses; indeed, I remain inclined to believe that's still true of

Amazingly, I had!  <sheepishly> Well, it was posted here, with annotations.

I have not much problem with the licence per se than the fact that it
appears to be imposed forcefully and retrospectively.  You may say that they
always had the right to do so, and that the change is for good, etc, but any
possibility of such things happening is disturbing.

>> Why not just ignore the new licence and use the CWI licence?
>It depends on to whom you're addressing the question.  If the FSF decides to
>do a Python fork, ignoring the new license and relying on the CWI license is
>presumably exactly the tack they'll take.  If you're addressing it to
>PythonLabs, there was a separate obligation (unique to Guido) to release 2.0
>as a derivative of 1.6.  As to other people, don't know.

Well, I give up.  As you said, this is Usernet. :-)

I still can't figure out the answer to this simple question: Is it legal for
anyone not employed by CNRI to pull the Python CVS at the point right before
the new CNRI licence was released and distribute it with CWI licence?

>> ...
>> OTH, if you are going to release Public Domain Python, I'd be really glad.
>I would be too, but that can't happen unless the copyright holders agree

I thought the CWI licence was liberal enough to allow puting into public
domain - but maybe that's too much.

>substance of the legal opinion we got.  You're not going to get a
>black-&-white answer!  And you wouldn't if the GPL were involved, either.

With GPL, as long as it is authorized, no one can take it back.  That's
sufficiently clear from my pov.

>> ...
>> There is this talk about CWI licence not really being a licence.
>> Does this mean
>Nobody knows, except perhaps for CNRI, and, as I said, they've only "made
>vague noises" about it.
>> 1. The text of the licence is legally defective in some way
>> 2. The copyright holder has never authorized release under this licence
>> 3. The licence does not have CNRI on it
>> If it's the second point, do you conceed it to be a valid point
>> by adopting the CNRI licence now?
>Hmm -- I really can't parse that question <wink>.  I have said before that I
>don't think CNRI would have a case on any of 1, 2 or 3, though.  But IANAL.
>The lawyer we did ask agreed, however.

Then what was the reason they give for having the right to impose the new
licence?  If the only problem was Guido's employment obligations, what
prevent you from releasing it under CWI, for example?  Ok, maybe you don't
want to - but you could, right?

>CNRI never asked anyone to transfer copyrights.  I've posted links to their
>contribution forms several times, and had you followed them, you would know
>this.  They did make arrangements early on with CWI wrt CWI's copyrights,
>but that's all.
So the impression I got from reading in this group is not accurate.

>Again, if you had read the licenses, you would know that CNRI's name is in
>every paragraph of "the CWI" license.  The CNRI license *FAQ* implies that
>CNRI's name was only in the liability disclaimer portion of the CWI license,
>but it only takes 10 seconds to verify that it's everywhere else too.  Like
>I said, this is Usenet <wink>.

However, they are not displayed in the command line.  Here're my old copies:

$ /usr/bin/python
Python 1.5.2 (#1, Sep 17 1999, 20:15:36)  [GCC egcs-2.91.66 19990314/Linux
(egcs- on linux-i386
Copyright 1991-1995 Stichting Mathematisch Centrum, Amsterdam

$ python
Python 1.6a2 (#2, May 10 2000, 16:58:36)  [GCC 2.95.2 19991024 (release)] on
Copyright 1991-1995 Stichting Mathematisch Centrum, Amsterdam

Anyway, all this just add to the argument: if the earlier releases were
authorized and under GPL, it would not matter what a later new licence is.


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