Python 2.0b1 is released!

Tim Peters tim_one at email.msn.com
Mon Sep 11 07:13:59 CEST 2000


[Steve Williams]
> Ach, you programmers.  You and your software don't recogize the time
> dimension--never have and never will.  My file layout today is good for
> eternity.
>
> If the lawyer says we're going to interpret the license under the laws
> of the Grand Duchy of Gerolstein, we need to pause for a moment and ask
> ourselves "who's going to be running the ol' fiefdom in 10 years?"
>
> You surely don't want to be called in the middle of the night, 10 years
> from now, by a divorce lawyer saying you owe his client 10 million
> dollars because you used some software created by an evil spouse 10
> years ago and he just bought off the legislature.
>
> Do you?
>
> If I had 50 billion bucks, I could buy a lot of legislatures.  Maryland
> ain't even in it.
>
> Can you spell UCITA?  Sure, I knew you could.

It's an entertaining argument, but I've actually read the GPL <wink>, and it
offers no protection here either that I can see.  It defers to "applicable
law", and is silent on the matter beyond that.  If UCITA is the law in
Maryland, and that's the law that applies, you're hosed anyway.  The law is
a mutable thing, and there's no safety in saying "applicable" instead of
"Virginia" over the long haul, and much less over the short.  Sounds more to
me like a programmer's conceit that it *could* be otherwise.

> You gotta nail these things down "in perpetuity", to coin a phrase.

Then I guess you have to do the impossible.

> Like Stallman says, the only peculiar thing is the CNRI lawyers think
> they're conforming to the GPL.

Perhaps you could take a stab at explaining *why* the CNRI license is
incompatible with the GPL?  I've read both licenses cover to cover multiple
times now, and don't see where that idea comes from.  Of course, I'm not a
lawyer!  But neither is Stallman.  My employer hired another attorney to
look at this, and they concluded the CNRI license was compatible too.  This
is starting to suggest that the grounds on which the incompatibility is
claimed aren't exactly clear to people who do law for a living.  If it rests
on a long chain of hypotheticals based on the notion that the courts are
witless tools of evil corporations, I may not be a lawyer, but I've met
enough judges to know they don't take kindly to presumptions the law is for
sale.

if-it's-a-matter-of-law-rather-than-rhetoric-it-won't-be-decided-on-
    usenet-ly y'rs  - tim






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