ask for APSL? for real this time?

Lex Spoon lex at
Tue Jan 6 20:32:06 UTC 2004

Cees, shouldn't we at least ask?  I agree that we don't want to spend
lots of time on this, compared to spending time on Squeak itself.
HOWEVER.  A better license means:

	- more people will be willing to help out

	- more companies will feel secure using Squeak

	- I will personally save time from maintaining a separate Debian apt
repository :)  I've already wasted more time on that than on licensing

I would like to not only save my own time, but save time from everyone
else who has to read a custom license and decide whether their liability
to Apple is acceptible.  And while I am certainly very happy to see
Squeak "just" be an experimental testbed for new development technology,
I'd be even happier if more companies can feel safe to use it.  Squeak
is already an excellent dev platform despite being primarily
experimental, and I'd hate to see people using something else because of
license concerns.

Heck, if nothing else, it would be very nice to be in a herd on this. 
If Squeak were APSL, then we'd be in company with a lot of other
software.  Right now, Squeak-L must be evaluated individually, and we
may get left aside as the legal basis of open source does slowly get
established over the next several years.

> >There has been a lot of discussion about Squeak licensing, and most
> >proposals require that Apple re-release the part of Squeak it owned
> >under a better license.  How about we go ahead and do that step, so that
> >further steps may be enabled?  Is there any reason not to?
> >
> I have asked for that about a year ago and got a clear and resounding
> 'No' as an answer from Apple. 

I didn't realize this.  Who did you ask?  What exactly did you ask for? 
If it is hopeless then of course we should give up.

> The only way this is going to move forward is if SqC steps in and
> juggle their contacts at Apple, and judging by past experience I don't
> feel that this is going to happen any time soon. 

In fact, Alan offered to do just that.

It didn't happen, because there was a lot of subsequent discussion.  But
perhaps the offer is still open.... ?

Also, Apple still presents Squeak for download on their web site:

They list the license as "freeware".

This doesn't sound so hopeless as you make it out.  Apple seems to have
intended Squeak to be released as an open source project; they have a
license all hammered out already, so it seems reasonable that they'd be
willing to apply this license to Squeak as well.

> And even then you are
> still left with a legal mess (unlike the current situation, which is
> entirely clear and acceptable to lots of parties) with respect to
> non-Apple contributions done under the SqL. 

I don't understand.  How can having part of it be APSL make things be

I have been assuming that all the main contributors would be willing to
re-release under any open source license you name.  We can then strip
out any code whose authors we cannot track down, and voila -- APSL
Squeak.  It is not even clear that we need Disney involved, since all
updates from SqC-at-Disney were posted externally and since Disney
doesn't seem to care.

On the other hand, the original Squeak release is unambiguously owned by
Apple, except for the parts that come from Smalltalk-80.  Thus without
Apple's help, it is quite hard to move forward.

And this situation, while acceptible to lots of parties, is unacceptible
to many others.  Isn't that a bad situation for an open source project?

> I can imagine getting Apple around, but Disney? Forget it. Just forget about it.

Why?  Here's Alan's take on that situation:

It's not clear that we need a statement from Disney, and it's also not
clear that they'd be unwilling to give it.  Companies love to be seen as
benefactors of the community.

> >I grow increasingly frustrated that Squeak is not included in open
> >source distributions due to the situation with OSI.  OSI will likely
> >never be convinced by arguments about the spirit of the license, and
> >without OSI's support, we are likely to continue to have trouble with
> >other groups such as Debian.
> >
> Yup. So you work around it.

Yes, you can apt-get squeak if you edit your sources.list.  It's a pain,
however, and not all Debian users are willing to do this.

And anyway, Debian is mainly a sign that there is a problem.  While I
personally feel comfortable using Squeak for myself, I don't want to be
putting legal pressure on others.  I also don't want the rug to go out
from underneath us when someone notices the license is not OSI

> Personally, I think that any time spent talking about the SqueakL is
> time lost. 

I don't want to spend much time on licensing.  However, the current
situation is fairly bad.  Talk all you want about fuzzy law, but the
export clause at least seems relatively clear cut.  Talk all you want
about the symbols on paper *maybe* not being meaningful, but I'd rather
not be sending around symbols on paper that make people nervous.  While
I don't want to spend lots of time on this, it seems we might as well
*try*.  We can ask the parties what they think, before giving up.

If we don't get a better license, then it is okay.  At worst, we can all
do as Alan suggests and hold out for whatever Squeak begets in 5-15
years from now, and simply abandon ship.  Is 5-15 years short enough
that we can just wait?  I guess it depends on your point of view.  Heck,
it might even be sooner, who knows?  And even the current situation is
perfectly fine for Squeak-as-testbed; it's only those goofy people who
want Squeak-as-platform that need to worry much about this, and even
they can often convince themself that there is no problem.

However, it would be helpful for the future of Squeak to have an
unambiguously open source license.  If Apple goes along, we can make
this happen.  If they don't, I am unsure what happens, but it is at
least much more difficult.

But whatever.  I don't want to sidetrack the list from its usual much
cooler discussions.  I just think it is worth asking.  It is pathetic to
give up without even asking.


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