[Haskell-cafe] blanket license for Haskell Platform?

Conrad Parker conrad at metadecks.org
Wed Oct 26 01:40:34 CEST 2011

Isn't the question just about packages included in the Haskell
Platform, for which "The current set of [acceptable] licenses is just
the BSD3 license":



It might be reassuring to companies that want to depend on the
platform if the policy was moved from Interim to Official; at least
that would mean there would be community pressure not to relicense
anything in the platform from BSD3 to (say) GPL.


On 25 October 2011 22:42, Jeremy O'Donoghue <jeremy.odonoghue at gmail.com> wrote:
> IANAL, but I'll bite, since I have needed to live with this for quite some
> time now. Obviously readers are directed to take independent legal advice
> before they do anything for themselves, and all of the other standard
> disclaimers.
> On 25 October 2011 11:58, Eric Y. Kow <eric.kow at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Tue, Oct 25, 2011 at 21:46:21 +1100, Ivan Lazar Miljenovic wrote:
>> > > - My user is concerned that a large number of having a large number of
>> > >  individual licenses even though textually identical modulo author,
>> > >  date, etc would mean a big hassle getting their lawyers and their
>> > >  user's lawyers to sign off on each and every license
>> >
>> > Why do their lawyers all need to sign off individually for BSD
>> > licenses (which if memory serves all platform libraries have to be
>> > licensed under, or some variant thereof)?  At most it just means they
>> > need to lump them all into one big text file somewhere saying which
>> > libraries they used... (then again, IANAL, and don't charge by the
>> > hour to consider these complex technical questions :p).
> The first thing to say is that this is actually a very responsible attitude
> on the client's part. When legal review is conducted it is not just the
> license which needs to be checked:
> What implications does this license carry for my business model. BSD is
> considered benign in this respect. GPL and LGPL work for some models but not
> others.
> Does the purported copyright holder actually have the right to issue the
> software under the given license.
> The second is much more time consuming. It is straightforward to do this if
> the software in question was written by one person, but when contributions
> come from multiple people it becomes more difficult. For example if a
> project receives a contribution which the contributor did on company time,
> they may not even have the right to make that contribution (because the
> employer paid for, and hence owns it). There have similarly been cases where
> a developer has taken code from, say, a GPL project and imported it into
> their own differently licensed project.
> This second case is particularly difficult, as there *may* be cases when it
> is acceptable (e.g. under fair use in some jurisdictions) to extract small
> portions of a work and re-use them, but in most cases the developer simply
> does not have the right to make the contribution. There are sub-cases of
> these, for example where one developer has removed the copyright notices
> placed by the original author, even though licensing has been kept the same.
> This is legal (if ethically dubious) in some jurisdictions and illegal in
> others.
> A related issue: can a project *prove* that contributors have all formally
> licensed their code contributions under the same license? As far as the law
> is concerned, you really need this in writing, or something very close to it
> (e.g. e-mail with full header information).
> Personally I think we should give praise and recognition to anyone who
> thoroughly checks and complies with the license attached to a piece of code
> as they are taking care to respect the wishes of the author. I get much more
> fired up about those who simply break licenses and hope they don't get
> caught.
>> I find the whole thing baffling myself.  I'd thought this would be the
>> sensible thing to do, but I guess when it comes to these licensing
>> things it's not the actual pain that counts, but the perceived potential
>> pain.  Know what I mean?
>> It's similar to the "won't touch with a 10ft pole" attitude to the GPL
>> that some entities may take.  It's basically a precautionary "la la la;
>> I can't hear you" or a conservative stance which consists of
>> "I don't understand this stuff, so I'm going to do the thing that seems
>> safest to me", which may or may not be a reasonable reaction...
> I am not sure that anyone 'understands' the GPL with real certainty [1]. Key
> questions: when does a work fall into the category of 'derived' under the
> GPL and when does it not do so? If I make money from licensing Intellectual
> Property, what are the consequences of code which grants an implicit patent
> license? Neither of these clauses of the GPL has been properly tested in a
> significant legal jurisdiction (and anyway, a Code Napoleon style
> jurisdiction might take a different stance than under UK/US style Common
> Law).
>> Well, it would need copyright attribution/agreement of everyone that's
>> ever committed code to any library/application to the Platform (which
>> is why so many large projects want it) to re-license them AFAIK, which
>> may be difficult.
>> I could just say it'd be unrealistic.  Just trying to be thorough.
> It may be unrealistic, but it would actually be a very good idea - although
> completely unnecessary if we wish to continue to avoid success at all costs
> :-)
> [1] This a strength of the GPL. It was developed to achieve a specific
> political goal, and has been hugely successful in doing so.
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