How to change the squeak licence ?

Lex Spoon lex at
Fri May 13 19:27:20 UTC 2005

Ross Boylan <RossBoylan at> wrote:
> The real solution to all this is a saner legal environment.  To some
> extent, Europe already has this, as numerous click through terms have
> been tossed by courts their as being egregious.  In the US we are not
> so lucky.

I am not so sure Europe is a legal panacaea.  Some of the countries have
legalized free DVD players, which is nice.  On the other hand, their
patent office seems to be racing to repeat our worst mistakes about IP.

That aside, IMHO the real problem is that there are major parties that
we are afraid to even talk to.  Legal agreements ought to be a fallback
for informal agreements, but we are intentionally not talking to some
major copyright holders out of fear that they might explicitly say "no,
buzz off."

I'm more optimistic, but let's leave it aside for now.  No one should
muck around with this until Andreas and Yoshiki unveil this mystery they
keep hinting at....

> Lex made light of the export restriction because
> it prevented (if it worked, which it obviously can't) Fidel Castro
> from getting stuff.  Well, yes, but it also prohibits anyone in Cuba,
> or any Cuban, from getting the software. 

This is not what I said at all.  Among other things, I said that I'm not
sure Cubans even have *theoretical* problem with getting the software. 
Export regulation normally does not apply to things that are already
freely available.  Is there something different about Squeak that would
change this?

> On export restrictions: there are at least two issues.  One is
> self-protection.  If you put something with export restrictions up on
> a server where anyone can get it, you might be in trouble for
> violating the restriction.

Talk to a lawyer before you are so sure.  Say what you will, surely
Apple's lawyers tried to protect Apple.  Without the export clause,
someone can download Squeak, re-export it, and thus get Apple in trouble
for letting this happen.  With the clause, Apple can claim that the
downloaders are at least *saying* they won't re-export it.  (Yes, yes,
assuming they read it, assuming it is binding, etc.   I'm not saying
it's foolproof!)

Regarding your theory, remember that the clause does not suddenly cause
Squeak to be subject to US export law.  It already is!  At best, when
you talk about people having freedom to export Squeak regardless of US
law, you are talking about the freedom to get the American contributors
in trouble.  IMHO, it would be great if we had extended clauses like
this to protect contributors from more countries.  Even though we don't
*plan* to harm each other, it doesn't hurt to have things in writing. 
(And if anyone *does* plan to do something sneaky and get many of us in
hot water, then they are not playing particularly nice...)

"Your freedom to swing your fist ends one inch from my nose".  This is a
common proverb among Americans and is the principle that Squeak-L
implements.  You can do what you want with Squeak, just don't harm the
people who gave it to you.  Download it for free and without obnoxious
click-throughs and registrations, but you must promise not to re-export
the software and get the creators in trouble.  Write any code you like
in it, but you must help protect the creators if what you do gets them
sued.  (If it's their fault, then don't worry about it.)

While I'm no lawyer, this intuitively seems like a good basis for people
to work together.  It allows a great deal of freedom while disallowing
just a few specific ways that we might try to hurt each other.

I really don't care much about the differences among most open-source
licenses--I really think, perhaps a bit like Samir, that "open-source
license" is almost oxymoronic.  If you want to give software away, then
give it away and stop putting so many constraints on it.  But if we must
choose among licenses, I am comfortable choosing one that was desiged by
friendly, professional lawyers.  I worry what will happen to projects
using other licenses once the court cases start happening; they have
good hearts, but good hearts are not going to make their flaky licenses
more robust.


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