Public Domain Python

Tim Peters tim_one at
Wed Sep 27 23:06:53 CEST 2000

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

> 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.

> ...
> 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

[on building on the CWI license]
> Why do I think so?  Because either you or Guido once said here,
> that if you release 2.0 with a licence that's not derived from CNRI
> licence, you'd have to start forking from no later than 1.5.2 and
> lose more than a year's work.

Billy asked specifically why people didn't build on 1.5.2 specifically.  In
a listing of several reasons, I observed that they would lose about 16
months of intense community work if they did so.

> So the question is, is the CVS tree covered by the CNRI licence only from
> the point that the licence is in effect (like in July or August), or is it
> covered retrospectively?

Note that the same question would apply had the GPL been slapped on it
instead.  It's a legal question in any case, and I already told you the
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.

> ...
> 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.

> CNRI must have known this and still asked authors to transfer copyrights
> for years.

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.

> Can that be considered fraud?

Since CNRI never asked for copyright assignment, no.

> Can all the authors rescind the transfer, claiming that they were misled?

Again, there was no transfer.  I believe people *could* put up a stink over
CNRI relicensing their work, and the *possibility* has been pointed out to
contributors several times, but AFAIK nobody objected.  I know I didn't!
Again, read the license:  it's not bad!  I've got a gripe with the "brief
summary of the changes" requirement, but that's all.

> I guess most people are under the impression that point 3 was the only
> thing, and CNRI had implied authorization if only CNRI were put
> in the same place as CWI in the old licence.

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>.

facts-got-nothing-to-do-with-it-ly y'rs  - tim

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