Public Domain Python

Tim Peters tim_one at
Sun Sep 17 22:18:15 CEST 2000

[William Tanksley]
> ...
> The interesting thing about my brand of paranoia is that I don't mind the
> new license; I'm concerned by the FSF's dislike of it (but not seriously
> concerned); my big worry is the question of how they got to do this, and
> whether they're going to do it again.
> It's mildly reassuring to see them claim that they won't do it again.
> Very mildly, since I have next to no reason to believe them.

They have not claimed they won't do it again:  the only thing they've said
is that they don't intend to revoke rights to use Python versions from 1.3
up to but not including 1.6b1.  They've said nothing beyond that, but for an
excellent reason:

WRT 1.6b1 and beyond, what CNRI may or may not do simply doesn't matter
anymore:  the 1.6 license is legally solid according to lawyers on all
sides, and is deriving from the 1.6 license.  CNRI can change the
1.6 license all they like in the future, but can't affect the version we
derived from.  CNRI is out of it now,  unless they unexpectedly decide to
resume Python development on their own, and create their own fork.  Even
then, they can't change the legalities applying to *our* (PythonLabs')
derivative work under the 1.6 license we derived from.

So if you want to remain paranoid, should be the object of your
future affections, not CNRI.  There you can trust Guido or not.  The papers
we're signing guarantee that can't change the license to anything
that wouldn't pass muster with the OSI as a certified Open Source license.
There isn't a clause guaranteeing that the license will always be
GPL-compatible, though.  In part that's because the GPL is a moving target
(GPL 2 is current, GPL 3 is in progress); in part because whether the CNRI
1.6 license *is* GPL-compatible is still in dispute; and in part because
determining GPL compatibility appears to be difficult and contentious
without any court cases in hand to clarify the fuzzy parts.

Guido loved the CWI Python license, but has said he'd move to the (new) BSD
license instead if he could (to cut down on the number of gratuitously
different licenses people have to deal with; BSD is certainly more widely
used).  I'm a fan of public domain as most clearly serving the public
interest.  So you know which direction we'll always be *pushing* in; alas,
if we can't get coroporate laywers out of our hair, we'll never actually

in-the-meantime-the-licenses-are-open-as-air-anyway-ly y'rs  - tim

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