[jdom-interest] Imcompatibility with GPL

Jason Hunter jhunter at servlets.com
Mon Oct 2 11:47:02 PDT 2006

Elliotte Harold wrote:
> Jason Hunter wrote:
>> An FSF lawyer posting that organization's postion is nice but doesn't 
>> resolve the issue.  Based on my understanding of how the legal system 
>> works, the lawyer who writes a license doesn't have special rights to 
>> interpret the license text.
>  >
>> (Although an organization's statement concerning the license for their 
>> own intellectual property may be used as evidence in a lawsuit.)
> The first paragraph sort the second. The statements of an organization's 
> official spokesperson certainly do carry more weight than the statement 
> of you or me.

 From my understanding (IANAL) a statement like that would only be 
usable as evidence for lawsuits involving that party's *own intellectual 
property*.  If the lawsuit involved the LGPL but not the FSF, the FSF's 
statement is I think legally meaningless, as much as if it were written 
by you or me.  All that would matter is the text of the license and the 
judge's interpretation of how it applies to Java.

Of course, a statement like the FSF's from you, Rusty, as licensor of 
XOM would carry weight regarding any lawsuit over your intellectual 
property.  Because it makes it harder for you to argue someone went 
against your license when you basically gave them a written green light. 
  Heck maybe your emails here might also be admissable that you perceive 
the LGPL as working a certain way.  :)

> Of course, it's a problem that the law, unlike code, most be interpreted 
> by human beings; and you can never be certain what any judge might do on 
> the wrong day. However that applies to *ALL* licenses: GPL. LGPL, 
> Apache, shrinkwrap, etc. If that possibility really bothers you so much, 
> then you can't release software under a license at all. In fact, you 
> probably can't do business, since contracts are subject to judicial whim 
> as well. We have to the best we can, and move forward.

All legal decisions are based on an analysis of risk.  Some licenses are 
riskier than others to rely upon.  Licenses where lawyers differ in 
their opinion of applicability are more risky.  I try to avoid using 
those if I have alternatives, and in choosing licenses for my own code I 
try to select licenses that will be less risky for users.


More information about the jdom-interest mailing list