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Re: LYNX-DEV SSLynx
Re: LYNX-DEV SSLynx
Thu, 5 Feb 1998 22:26:54 +0000 (GMT)
> (1) GPL is a licence, which implies a legal system under which it works,
> which in turn implies a nation's legal code (or international law)
> -- under whose laws is GPL established?
Licences permit. Except to the extent that the GPL exists for Lynx, use
of Lynx would be prohibited by international copyright law. The question
of legislature only applies to the interpretation of the GPL; without it
you can't use Lynx anyway.
> (2) if GPL is a legal constraint, not an appeal to people's consciences,
> who is in fact in a position to enforce it?
a) the copyright owners;
b) the FSF, who have expressed an intent to take legal action to enforce it.
(I am not sure if the FSF can enforce it directly for works on which they
don't own the copyright; what they could do is withdraw the right to use
the licence text itself. However it is very much in their interest that
all users of the license enforce it properly, so that it doesn't become
> does FSF have staff & funds to pursue a lawsuit against infringement?
> how likely would it be that FSF would pursue a lawsuit
> against the kind of gray-area special-case infringement
> which may be involved in LynxSSL?
That's would be a question of priorities for them. However this question is
NOT a minor issue. Two whole clauses were added to the GPL to deal with
patent conflicts, and Richard Stallman and others have issued a manifesto
against software patents. There are two pieces of software which commonly
cause patent problems in free software. One is LZW (GIF, compress, etc.)
and the other is RSA (SSL, PGP etc.) So Lynx is challenging may be 40% of
the reasons for two of the GPL clauses.
If my interpretation of the licence is correct, Lynx breaching it would be
setting a major precedent.
Note that my grey area relates to the creation of a version, outside the
USA and not for distribution to or in the USA.
> unless Lynx is copyright under international law
It is. Even Berkeley licensed code is. Published software has to be
explicitly put into the public domain, by all copyright owners, or they
must have been dead for 50 to 70 years for it not to be. Some countries
don't permit the first exception. Lynx certainly meets the criteria for
having been "published".
> & FSF have the ability & the will to pursue enforcement in the courts,
> i suggest that the whole question of LynxSSL status is moot.
That position would undermine the whole legal basis under
which "free" software is protected from commercial plagiarism
(NB commercial use and redistribution are permitted, but
only under restrictions to ensure that the GPLed identity of
the code, and the associated freedoms, are retained.)
NB Lynx doesn't have to be issued under the GPL, but to change the licence,
or create a parallel licence with alternate terms, the permission of all
copyright owners would be needed (although CERNs licence is probably already
broad enough for most purposes.) If an alternative licence is considered,
I would advise the Berkeley style, not an attempt to put it into the public
Actually, the copyright status of Lynx is a mess, as it has multiple owners,
and the exact extent of their copyright is probably unclear. There is
no company to which the copyright can be assigned. I seem to remember
requests from the FSF to actually clean up the copyright ownership so
that it could be better requested, on this list about a year ago.
My impression is that the primary reason that the FSF exists as a legal
entity is so that it can protect its copyrights.
Re: LYNX-DEV SSLynx, T.E.Dickey, 1998/02/01