Gentoo Archives: gentoo-dev

From: Rich Freeman <rich0@g.o>
To: gentoo-dev <gentoo-dev@l.g.o>
Subject: Re: [gentoo-dev] Should we allow "GPL, v2 or later" for ebuilds?
Date: Thu, 30 Jan 2020 14:23:47
In Reply to: Re: [gentoo-dev] Should we allow "GPL, v2 or later" for ebuilds? by "Hanno Böck"
1 On Thu, Jan 30, 2020 at 8:39 AM Hanno Böck <hanno@g.o> wrote:
2 >
3 > *If* Gentoo decides to go this relicensing way I'd recommend to only do
4 > that if it's coordinated with organizations that have deep legal
5 > knowledge of these issues (e.g. like software freedom conservancy) and
6 > if some lawyers that know this stuff well approve the plan.
7 >
9 IMO no organization has "deep legal knowledge" of these issues,
10 because as far as I'm aware something like this has never been done
11 and tested in court. Really there are only a handful of legal cases
12 at all that deal with copyleft and FOSS relicensing.
14 There is no end of lawyers who will hand-wave on the issue. I think
15 the bottom line is that doing something like this is legally risky,
16 because until something like this has been done successfully many
17 times it is novel. You're never going to find a lawyer who will sign
18 off saying "this is safe and definitely legal." The only way you
19 could make something like this risk-free would be to get governments
20 around the world to pass laws setting up requirements for
21 FOSS-relicensing without the consent of all contributors.
23 The best we can do is mitigate risks, if we elect to do something like
24 this. That can include being transparent, giving notice, having a way
25 to opt out, and so on. Then when somebody sends us a cease and desist
26 notice we just tell them no problem, their contributions will be
27 treated as v2-only. That doesn't completely prevent them from suing
28 us, but it would mitigate the impact, and probably make it unlikely
29 that most would sue in the first place. Really, with something like
30 this that is the best you're ever going to be able to hope for.
32 If you don't want to do something unless a lawyer can guarantee that
33 it can't be found to be a tort by a court, then you definitely don't
34 want to pursue this change, unless we only make it forward-going for
35 new contributions and carefully track existing code, and I doubt that
36 will ever be very practical, so you might as well just give up and say
37 we'll be v2 forever because that's how things were set up 20 years
38 ago.
40 --
41 Rich