Eric Armstrong wrote:
> Paul Fernhout wrote:
> > I for one will not contribute any further code to this colloquium
> > until
> > licensing issues are resolved to some form of satisfactory "open
> > source"
> > and the development effort is moved out from the Stanford / BI
> > "permission to use" clause with its indemnification provision. So in
> > addition to having a BSD revised license, the "permission to use"
> > agreement would have to be formally revised.
> I must apologize profusely to all concerned for having unintentionally
> opened what I believe to be an illusory can of worms.
> My original message was meant as a personal illustration of the need
> for altruism, the example I used was merely stage-setting -- part of
> a lengthy, ongoing discussion on this topic.
My comments on this issue have nothing to do with your posts related to
SRI. I was concerned even back in November about the lack of an open
source license or released code. It was a major reason I was concerned
about investing any time related to the Bootstrap Institute or the
The fact remains that the "permission to use" license with its
indeminifcation clause is completely inappropriate for a voluntary
I have signed agreements that include indeminfication and warranty
clauses for code I have developed, and my intellectual property lawyer
has been very clear in the need to revise the scope of the
indemnification to something I could live with as a business person.
It is totally unreasonable to expect developers to indemnify Stanford
(and BI) for code given voluntarily.
It is not, however, unreasonable to do things like ask for a statment of
originality or a waiver from an employer if needed. This is appropriate
"due dilligence" and will help ensure that organizations can use the
result easily and less liability.
Python handles this well. See for example:
Here in detail is the last:
"CNRI acknowledges, with thanks, the receipt by CNRI from Licensee of
the above-described Contribution ("Contribution") to the Python software
and its related documentation.
Licensee confirms to CNRI that, to the best of Licensee's knowledge and
belief, the Contribution is free of any claims of parties other than
Licensee under copyright, patent or other rights or interests
("claims"). To the extent that Licensee has any such claims, Licensee
hereby grants to CNRI a nonexclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free,
worldwide license to reproduce, distribute, perform and/or display
publicly, prepare derivative versions, and otherwise use the
Contribution as part of the Python software and its related
documentation, or any derivative versions thereof, at no cost to CNRI or
its licensed users and without any accounting obligation to Licensee of
any kind, and to authorize others to do so.
Licensee hereby acknowledges that CNRI may, at its sole discretion,
decide whether or not to incorporate the Contribution in the Python
software and its related documentation. Licensee further grants CNRI
permission to use Licensee's name and other identifying information
provided to CNRI by Licensee for use in connection with the Python
software and its related documentation.
EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED HEREIN, LICENSEE MAKES NO REPRESENTATIONS
OR WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR
IMPLIED, WITH RESPECT TO THE ABOVE-DESCRIBED CONTRIBUTION. BY WAY OF
EXAMPLE, BUT NOT LIMITATION,
LICENSEE MAKES NO AND DISCLAIMS ANY REPRESENTATION OR WARRANTY OF
MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR
ANY PARTICULAR PURPOSE. IN NO EVENT SHALL LICENSEE BE LIABLE TO USERS OF
THE CONTRIBUTION FOR ANY
INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OR LOSS WHATSOEVER AS A
RESULT OF USING, MODIFYING OR
DISTRIBUTING THE CONTRIBUTION, OR ANY DERIVATIVE THEREOF, EVEN IF
ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY THEREOF.
Notice that at no point does the licensee indeminfy CNRI (Python's
current home organization).
By the way, the "indemify clause" would also likely apply to
orgnaizations allowing individuals to particiapte in the effort. So for
example, if a General Electric employee contributes code as part of
their job (say on load to the Bootstrap Alliance), the G.E. become
liable for Stanford's legal bills.
I'm not trying to defend misuse of intellectual property here -- what I
am getting at is that there is no limit on the indeminfication, and no
statement that use of material found to be infringing will immediately
be discontinued (or replaced) by Stanford and BI. This creates the
absurd situation of GE being bankrupted by Stanford if a GE employee
unkowningly contributes infringing code which Stanford then profitably
(I am not a lawyer, so IP lawyers out there feel free to chime in if I
am getting anything wrong. Consult you own IP lawyer before making your
> Doug is totally committed to open source, as is every member of the
> group that is present at that meeting. Of many ideas being kicked
> around to bootstrap the project, one of them was to set up a formal
> project within SRI (an organization which has up to this point
> graciously donated meeting space and at least one full time person
> who has been able to devote quality time to the effort -- all for an
> unofficial, exploratory project).
> SRI is no different from any other organization we might approach to
> fund this effort. Like any venture capitalist or company, they quite
> reasonably ask, "Where is the opportunity to continue paying the light
> bills, meeting salaries, and get the trash hauled away?" We wouldn't
> expect General Motors to invest in this without some reasonable impact
> on the bottom line, nor should we expect any other organization to do
> The question always was, and continues to be, how do you provide a
> profit incentive that is consistent with Open Source development?
> Answering that question provides the solution needed to secure
> funding, in a way that benefits humanity as a whole. In attempting to
> answer that question, we have explored a wide variety of options.
As regards to how SRI is going to make money using open source --
I don't begrudge them a dime. It is a non-issue.
However profit making with open source is a question for some people --
not "the question". "The question" of this colloquium is more like, how
do we ensure the survival (or transcendence?) of humanity amidst rapid
technological change? Doug's answer is "bootstrapping" a coevolution of
organization and tools, of which an OHS/DKR is a central theme. In
practive, creating a amazing OHS/DKR is the only point of leverage a
small group with limited resource has.
What if "the answer" to "the question" entails changing "profit
incentives" to something more humane? In James P. Hogan's novel "Voyage
from Yesteryear", where automated factories can make almost everything
for free, people still feel the need to contribute in order to gain
social prestige and acceptance and give something back.
> But I can tell you this: Doug is absolutely adamant that the project
> will be open source. I know that it will be. If we can't provide
> sufficient profit incentive, then our options are self-funding or
> government funding. If we can, then a whole gamut of commercial
> options open before us. Either way, it is going to be fully Open Source,
> with no strings attached. I'll bet my last dollar on that.
I don't doubt Doug's intentions. But it would be nice to hear it again
on the list from an official BI representative. "The road to hell is
paved with good intentions..."
Developers of custom software and educational simulations
Creators of the Garden with Insight(TM) garden simulator
Make new friends, find the old at Classmates.com:
Community email addresses:
Post message: unrev-II@onelist.com
List owner: unrev-IIemail@example.com
Shortcut URL to this page:
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sun May 14 2000 - 06:34:50 PDT