SL Baur writes:
We've been very strict about GPL licensing. Every bit
of code that went in in my watch *WAS* GPL.
But you have no paper to prove it. Your testimony would count in
court, but I doubt it would stand up to a Darryl McBride waving an
employment contract that one of our contributors had signed.
I would also argue that any bit of Emacs Lisp code is
a derived work and hence GPL
Nope. You can attack that on two grounds. First, the FSF claims it
*is* a derived work, but that depends on the legal theory that dynamic
linking infects the source code which does not contain a copy of any
GPLed work. Many lawyers disagree, and it has *never* been tested in
court. Personally, I think if it were, the GPL would become
redundant, because the court would decide that legally it means the
same thing as the LGPL. But that's just an opinion.
Second, the GPL quite clearly disclaims any such thing as an automatic
GPLing of a work. If you distribute a GPL derivative without GPLing
it, then you lose all your GPL rights to the original. But your work
does not become GPL unless you say so, with the consequence that if
you don't, both you and all your downstream must stop redistributing
those parts of the work that are yours.
"safely assume" does not mean a whole lot in an American
court, I'm afraid.
Definitely not if you're not a lawyer. Me, I make assumptions safely
when proving theorems. I don't consider any other assumption safe
(especially not the assumption that Xlib calls documented by X.org as
non-blocking won't block, but that's another rant).
Personally, I'd dance around with joy. Practically, I don't
think I can do that since every contribution I made to
XEmacs was also copyright-assigned to the FSF. Does
*that* count on manual changes?
Yes, but it doesn't matter because the manuals are licensed under
nameless (and therefore *not* upgradable) predecessor to the God-
Forsaken Documentation License.
BTW, Larry the lawyer says it's trivial to revoke assign.future if you
want to. It might even be possible to revoke the assignment of past
code on the basis that you never got your dollar (at least, I never
got mine, and they didn't even ask if I cared), but the FSF would
surely fight in court; it would be very expensive.
We have CVS dating back to 1995. We ought to be
able to identify and remove the naughty bit (Ben Wing,
et. al.) contributions since then and remove them as
far as the manual goes.
I don't think that's worth it. If that's necessary we may as well
just nuke it and start from scratch. But if we're going to start
over, I'd prefer to use a system like doxygen or whatever and blow off
the FSF manuals, instead working from the FSF docstrings (and GPLing
our manuals in the process).
It shouldn't be necessary, though. Ben has not been in touch for
years, but he has always been happy to relicense to anything that
would be useful. He also offered to assign all his documentation
stuff to the FSF if they would let us use GFDLed Emacs docs under the
nameless license. Stallman was a mild jerk about it (ie, he
reiterated his usual demand that the FSF review every line proposed
for relicensing), Ben got huffy, and then it was a contest to see who
could be the bigger jerk until Stallman said "No docs for XEmacs or
anybody who looks like you!"
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