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Re: [Licensing] Request to evaluate candidate HTML Document license (known as "Option 3")

From: Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@MIT.EDU>
Date: Sun, 03 Apr 2011 18:52:00 -0400
Message-ID: <4D98FA10.3040603@mit.edu>
To: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
CC: "Dailey, David P." <david.dailey@sru.edu>, Gervase Markham <gerv@mozilla.org>, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, "licensing@mozilla.org" <licensing@mozilla.org>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
On 4/3/11 5:21 PM, Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
> I believe Mozilla is interpreting the restriction of Option 3 to software as a field-of-use restriction. Non-software uses, such as documentation that does not accompany software, would be restricted.
>
> On the other hand, Eben Moglen interpreted Option 3 as compatible with the GPL, and therefore free of "other restrictions". This seems potentially in conflict with Mozilla's interpretation, since a "field-of-use restriction" would presumably be an "other restriction".

I should add a clarifying note here.

I was given to understand by the legal folks that this is a known 
difference of opinion amongst lawyers; Eben Moglen has taken this 
position before in other situations while other lawyers have taken the 
opposite position (the one Mozilla is taking here).

Given that uncertainty, presumably engendered by the fact that the issue 
has never been tested in a case, I believe we (Mozilla) are 
intentionally picking the "no surprises" side of the legal controversy. 
  That is, we would vastly prefer it if our goals for the license were 
met no matter which side of the legal argument is correct.

I believe this last principle is one we will wish to follow no matter 
what, as Gervase alluded to: if there is reasonable legal disagreement 
about what's allowed under the terms of a license, that license is not 
likely to be acceptable, even if some lawyers swear the objectionable 
provisions are nonbinding or not important or unenforceable or not 
likely to be enforced, or whatever else.  It's important that everyone 
understand exactly what the license says and its implications; 
evaluating it under any other conditions is not going to be very useful.

-Boris, very much with my Mozilla hat on, but with my nonexistent lawyer 
hat obviously off.
Received on Sunday, 3 April 2011 22:52:38 GMT

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