[Squeakfoundation]Re: Sublicensing seems possible

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sat Apr 5 00:22:41 CEST 2003

Andreas Raab wrote:
>>>I hope these license issues can be resolved -- but please think 
>>>carefully about the Disney issue when deciding how to proceed.
>>When Alan and the others were at Disney they were using 
>>Squeak under the self-same Squeak-L that the rest of us were/are.
> That's not even the point. We *released* new Squeak versions under the very
> same Squeak-L (where it is important to note that we did not release all of
> the code we wrote at Disney under Squeak-L - there were various projects
> which never made it out of Disney). We actually had a pretty clear state and
> church separation while being there - Disney projects being Disney projects
> (aka: proprietary Disney content, non-open source) and Squeak projects being
> Squeak projects. Unless you want to change the license (in which case you'd
> have to go to Disney again) there is nothing at all to worry about - Disney
> knew about this (besides Squeak itself, anyone remember Panda3D? this went
> up all the way to the top, too) and approved of it, thanks to Alan.

I would agree that this sounds like what was probably the case (and you 
and Alan would know!)

But, nonetheless, there is no official trail I have seen that documents 
this. This makes the situation hard to explain to people outside the 
Squeak community, at the very least. There is no email or scanned letter 
in PDF format I can point to from Disney legal that says, "yes we are 
making this software available under these specific licensing terms". 
Not even one just one sentence I've ever seen. And Disney is notoriously 
touchy about its copyrights, trademarks, and (presumably) software patents.

The Squeak license specifically names Apple. If the license said "all 
the authors" and didn't name Apple then I'd feel a bit better (though 
still queasy without explicit statements). But technically (and I am 
guilty of this myself with Embedded Squeak) how can one say legally that 
a derived work is under the Squeak license when the license specially 
names Apple? Technically, I think you would need a new license which 
includes the terms in "Exhibit A" but names yourself and then includes 
Exhibit A again.

Perhaps because computer programmers are usually reading this Squeak 
license, a programmer would _assume_ recursive things about it (as it 
defines a recursive algorithm in effect) without actually putting that 
recursion into practice in a legally binding way by constructing a new 
license? Yet, there is a difference between defining a recursive 
algorithm and actually running it for real and watching the (license) 
stack grow -- N, N+1, N+2, N+3, etc.

For whatever one might feel about the GPL, if Squeak was under the GPL, 
it would be clear that officialy distributed derived code was properly 
licensed. Likewise, if Squeak was under the BSD-revised license, no one 
would assume much about the status of contributions -- and there would 
likely be along with the Disney copyright notice a statement that Disney 
grants a license to the modified code under certain terms. By the Squeak 
license being in the middle, it tends to lead to assumptions on a first 
reading which may not hold up in practice. For me, all that is part of 
the problem I have with the Squeak license itself and the larger 
licensing situation. (And of course it is not the only open source or 
free software project with such issues...)

However, most people in the Squeak community historically don't seem to 
have a problem with the license or the general licensing situation, 
especially given their various needs (fooling around, experimenting, 
sharing a few free things here and there), so I'll again pipe down and 
keep using Python (a bit sadly and wistfullly) mainly for licensing 
reasons (as much as I prefer most things about Squeak) -- or take 
occasional attempts to "burn the disk packs" on my own every once in a 
while for fun. Still, I personally feel the license remains a stumbling 
block to Squeak's growth towards the stated ideals. Communities become 
self-selecting -- those who have problems with the license move on to 
other things. Those who like the license and the project stick around. 
Like using an arrow mapped instead of an ASCII underscore for 
assignment, perhaps the Squeak license is part of Squeak's charm.

--Paul Fernhout

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