[Mono-list] problems with relicensing

Christian Ratliff cratliff@lily.org
Tue, 8 Jan 2002 17:08:39 -0500


  My only trouble with the copyright assignment was section 6(a). In the
world of bogus patent grants, and we do live in that world, I cannot
easily know if my work can subject Ximian to a suit. As an individual
copyright owner, I am not an attractive target for a large corporation
seeking to assert its patent rights. However, as part of the Mono
runtime, which I did want to contribute to but declined after reading
6(a), I am part of a much larger, more attractive target. If some third
party gains a bogus patent similar to work I do for Ximian, an event I
can easily imagine, then suddenly I have agreed to compensate Ximian
should it not prevail in the suit.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: mono-list-admin@ximian.com 
> [mailto:mono-list-admin@ximian.com] On Behalf Of Miguel de Icaza
> Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2002 4:34 PM
> To: Josh Emmons
> Cc: mono-list@ximian.com
> Subject: Re: [Mono-list] problems with relicensing
> > But what if now Ximian changes the license to "you can only use this
> > code if you pay Miguel de Icaza two-hundred gorgan-zillian 
> dollars", 
> > which would be in Ximian's rights to do.  Could Ximian make 
> this license 
> > change retroactive?  Let me be more specific: if Ximian has 
> owned the 
> > copyright to my lexer since version 1.2, can they say that 
> all software 
> > that uses a version of my lexer later than 1.2 (which may 
> be /years/ old 
> > at this point) has to fork over money to Miguel or be sued?
> That is definitely not our intention.
> I will make sure that the copyright assignment will allow you 
> to keep the right over your code as well (I do not have the 
> copyright assignment form with me as I am in Mexico this week 
> as well).
> But basically, you should be able to do whatever you want 
> with your code (even grant licenses to other people or 
> relicense it yourself).  
> The reason why the copyright assignment is required is not to 
> sue people, but to be legally entitled to grant access to the 
> source code under different licenses.  
> Here is a scenario: a company decided that they wanted to 
> build a set-top box using Mono, but that the GPL on the JIT 
> engine would not allow them to deploy their system and still 
> grant the recipient the rights they want (be able to modify 
> the software you run on your settop box for example), we 
> would be able legally to grant them a license to use the 
> JITer on such set top box without infringing the GPL. n
> > So then my problem becomes, do I donate my lexer to Ximian, 
> knowing that 
> >   /any other/ project I use it in may be put in jeopardy if Ximian
> > changes the lexer's license, as they have the right to do?
> Your contributions are available under the open source 
> version of the libraries.  That means that even if we 
> relicense the code, you can use the code as distributed 
> originally (and use any of our code under the open source 
> license terms for that particular piece).
> > If I didn't have some sort of legal guarantee that Ximian would not 
> > make
> > retroactive changes to my code's license, the only code I 
> would donate 
> > to Ximian would be code that I was sure I was never going to use 
> > anywhere else.  That doesn't sound like quality code to me.
> You can not do retroactive changes.  You can not get back a 
> gift you have given either ;-)
> Miguel.
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