How to change the squeak licence ?

Lothar Schenk lothar.schenk at
Mon May 9 09:44:28 UTC 2005

Cees De Groot wrote:

> On 5/8/05, Andreas Raab <andreas.raab at> wrote:
> > Actually no. It's the only license we require you to *accept* before you
> > get the download.
> Err... that usually (certainly by US law as far as I have followed it
> during the last few years) is the license that will govern the
> contract. What you accept on a click through is the valid license.

Wrong. It is a valid license only if it is a valid license to begin with, i.e. 
if the licensor legally has the right to offer you this license. I am very 
concerned - though I am admittedly not a lawyer - that in the case of Squeak 
and the MIT license offered by VRI this may be doubtful exactly because the 
'beancounting wankers' at Apple made a thorough job of protecting the 
interests of their employer.

Section 2 of the Squeak-L defines how derivative works may be sublicensed (and 
is that the same as "relicensed"?). In particular, it stipulates that (1) the 
modified software must be supplied free of charge, (2) a sublicense must be 
"no less protective of Apple and Apple's rights than this License" (the 
Squeak-L), and (3) must be "under the terms set forth in Exhibit A below", 
which essentially forces you to include these conditions in any sublicense.

Now compare this to the MIT license offered by VRI and form an opinion 
yourself if it meets these criteria (hint: the MIT license allows 
unrestricted commercial use).

Worse yet, at the end of section 2 the Squeak-L says: "Your rights under this 
license will terminate automatically without notice from Apple if you fail to 
comply with any term(s) of this License." Think about the dangers in that, 
even if you should make any mistake only inadvertently. No right to use, 
distribute, sublicense...

> > Once you start Croquet you will find that a "jump to
> > previous project" will get you into a vanilla 3.6 image [...]
> Sure. But the click-through license is what counts.

If the offer is legally valid to begin with.

If it isn't, then the most favorable interpretation I can think of in a court 
setting - IF this ever goes to court, of course - would probably be that the 
MIT license only applied to the Croquet part, while the Squeak part retained 
its original license. The worst interpretation I imagine could be that the 
license as a whole was invalid for the reasons mentioned above. And that 
could have dire consequences.

> The deal with Croquet is:
> - I click to accept a license (as far as it goes, click-through is
> considered to be valid);
> - I get software. An image and a virtual machine and a whole
> collection of files. That is what VRI licensed to me. The works. Not
> just whatever VRI considers to be part of Croquet, because how can I
> know that as a simple Joe A. User?

You as a user can't know, but that will not make it a valid transaction if the 
offer itself was invalid.

As a user, you will probably have no problem, because you can still always 
acquire Squeak under the Squeak-L. For VRI as a distributor the situation 
might be far more touchy.

> But VRI *does* post a license. Without restricting parts.
> > If you read Squeak-L carefully you'll find
> > that VPRI does indeed adhere to all of the terms included so your
> > finger-pointing might be totally off.

I don't come to this conclusion, but, fortunately, I am not a lawyer, either, 
so my interpretation may be entirely off base (and really, I don't like to 
play Cassandra, but I think that this is a vital question that cannot be 
simply swept under the rug). As in programming, if it isn't immediately 
obvious from the "code" how it will work out, there's always a likelihood 
that catastrophic results may occur.

> And I'm also hesitant to believe that VRI wants
> to keep a low profile around OpenCroquet (which is the ultimate
> defence against licensing trickiness...). 

Yes, notice how they use the words "operating system" for Croquet in the first 
sentence on the Croquet web site, and think who - as a corporate entity, for 
example - might have some vested interest in operating systems and thus in 
anything that possibly could diminish their sales and revenue if offered for 
free. You'd better have a more than rock-solid legal base if you want this to 
be more than an academic curiosity.


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