Public Domain Python

Tim Peters tim_one at
Thu Sep 14 07:46:55 CEST 2000

[Grant Griffin]
> ...
> But seriously folks, I'm beginning to think that the many legal
> dimensions of open-source software are completely untenable in the
> aggregate.  The solution seems to be to pretty-much ignore all the
> things that drive lawyers crazy (which seems to be pretty much the _de
> facto_ answer up until now; there seems to have been almost zero
> litigation on the subject), or else to create some new body of statute
> law to "clarify" this mess.
> Since the latter seems unlikely, I vote we stick with the former.

I'm all for ignoring wieners myself.  Alas, like the old saying goes, it
only takes one bad weiner to spoil the broth.  Once they butter your bread,
you gotta sleep in it!  Or is that once they you make your bed, you gotta
eat it?  Oh dear, I hope the Aphorism Lawyers aren't reading this thread.

[sorry, lost the attribution here]
>> Perhaps "all" one would need to reimplement would would be the
>> compiler/virtual machine.  I don't think that the included libraries can
>> really be claimed, except for some of them.

The CWI text was clear that the copyright covered the entire distribution,
even the  docs, and also the license itself.  Feel free to fight that,
though, if you have unlimited funds and time.

[back to Grant]
> I guess it depends on what private licensing agreements CNRI has made
> with Python contributors.  I don't have any idea what the terms for that
> have been (Tim?), but I remember hearing here that CNRI did require "wet
> ink" licenses for major contributions,

> and e-mail licenses for minor contributions.

Clearly gave 'em broad rights to use the work, but no assignment of

> In Perl modules, it's very common to see things "licensed under the same
> terms as Perl itself" (which is the user's choice of Perl's "Artistic"
> license or the GPL).
> and-that-works-because-those-licenses-don't-ever-much-change-ly y'rs,

Oh, don't think Perl is immune!  They've got their own mess brewing owing to

1. Most programmers, being legally incompetent and darned proud of it,
   ignore licenses entirely, just doing what "feels right" instead (or,
   at worst, what they think they read in a Usenet posting about what
   somebody else thinks someone who probably ought to know may have
   said last year and damn ain't it a shame about DejaNews ...).

2. Ask yourself how many programmers you *know* ever got in trouble for
   that (my answer after 20+ years in the industry:  couldn't swear
   it's not 0).

3. Perl stuff released under the Artistic License alone has ended up
   in some GPL'ed distributions.  Ain't compatible.


perl-is-the-root-of-all-evil<wink>-ly y'rs  - tim

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