Debian Bug report logs - #293932
profile.py has non-free license

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Package: python; Maintainer for python is Matthias Klose <doko@debian.org>; Source for python is src:python-defaults.

Reported by: Joe Wreschnig <piman@debian.org>

Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 22:03:10 UTC

Severity: serious

Fixed in version python2.3/2.3.5-1

Done: Matthias Klose <doko@debian.org>

Bug is archived. No further changes may be made.

Full log


Message #130 received at 293932@bugs.debian.org (full text, mbox):

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Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2005 13:45:54 -0800
From: David Ascher <david.ascher@gmail.com>
Reply-To: David Ascher <david.ascher@gmail.com>
To: jeremy@alum.mit.edu
Subject: Re: [Python-Dev] license issues with profiler.py and md5.h/md5c.c
Cc: Tim Peters <tim.peters@gmail.com>, 293932@bugs.debian.org, 
	Matthias Klose <doko@cs.tu-berlin.de>, python-dev@python.org
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On Tue, 8 Feb 2005 15:52:29 -0500, Jeremy Hylton <jhylton@gmail.com> wrote:
> Maybe some ambitious PSF activitst could contact Roskind and Steve
> Kirsch and see if they know who at Disney to talk to...  Or maybe the
> Disney guys who were at PyCon last year could help.

I contacted Jim.  His response follows:

---
I'm a strong supporter of Opensource software, but I'm probably not
going to be able to help you very much.  I could be much more helpful
with understanding the code or its use ;-).

To summarize what I'll say: I don't own the rights to this stuff.  ...
but I don't believe there are any patents that I was ever involved
with that might encumber this work.

I would note that my profiler code is really very rarely used in
commercial products, and it is much more typically used by developers
(I guess a developer toolkit, if sold, would use it).  I'm pretty
delighted that the code has found so much use by developers over the
years.  As I noted in the intro to the documentation, I had only been
coding in Python for 3 weeks when I wrote it.  On the positive side,
it exposed many weaknesses in many developer's code (including our own
at InfoSeek), as well as in core Python code (subtle bugs in the
interpreter) that surely helped everyone.  Even though I was a newbie,
It was VERY carefully crafted,, and I'd expect that it would take a
fair amount of effort to reproduce it (and that is is probably why it
has not been changed much... or at least no one told me when they
changed/fixed it ;-) ).

With regard to why I probably can't help much.....

First off, InfoSeek (holder of the copyright) was bought by Disney,
and I don't know what if anything has eventually become of the
tradename.  There is a chance that Disney owns the rights... and I
have no idea who to ask there :-/.

Second, I took a look at the Copyright, and it sure seems pretty
permissive.  I'm amazed if folks want something more permissive.  
This is what I found on the web for it:

    Copyright © 1994, by InfoSeek Corporation, all rights reserved.

    Written by James Roskind.10.1

    Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this Python
software and its associated documentation for any purpose (subject to
the restriction in the following sentence) without fee is hereby
granted, provided that the above copyright notice appears in all
copies, and that both that copyright notice and this permission notice
appear in supporting documentation, and that the name of InfoSeek not
be used in advertising or publicity pertaining to distribution of the
software without specific, written prior permission. This permission
is explicitly restricted to the copying and modification of the
software to remain in Python, compiled Python, or other languages
(such as C) wherein the modified or derived code is exclusively
imported into a Python module.

    INFOSEEK CORPORATION DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES WITH REGARD TO THIS
SOFTWARE, INCLUDING ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND
FITNESS. IN NO EVENT SHALL INFOSEEK CORPORATION BE LIABLE FOR ANY
SPECIAL, INDIRECT OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OR ANY DAMAGES WHATSOEVER
RESULTING FROM LOSS OF USE, DATA OR PROFITS, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF
CONTRACT, NEGLIGENCE OR OTHER TORTIOUS ACTION, ARISING OUT OF OR IN
CONNECTION WITH THE USE OR PERFORMANCE OF THIS SOFTWARE.

As I recall, I probably personally created the terms of the above
license.  I used a similar license on my C/C++ grammar, and Infoseek
just added a bunch of wording to be sure that they were not at risk,
and that their name would not be used in vain (or in advertising
material).  I think they were also interested in limiting its use to
Python.... but I don't think that is a concern that would bother you.

I read the link you directed me to, and its primary focus seemed ot be
on patents for related or included technology.

I don't believe that infoseek applied for or got any patents in this
area (and certainly if they did so without my name, it would probably
invalidate the patent), and I'm sure I didn't get any patents in this
area at Netscape/AOL.  In fact I don't think I got any patents back in
1994 or 1995.  My only prior patent dated back to about 1983 (a
hardware patent) that has since expired.

I have some patents since (roughly) 1995, and even though I don't
think any of them relate to profiling (though some did relate to
languages, or more specifically, security in languages), I wouldn't
want to mess with assigning rights to any of those patents, as they
belong to AOL/Netscape.  Here again, to my knowledge, none of my
patents relate in any way to this area (profiling).  Sadly, if they
did, I would not have the right to assign them.

I'm sure you're just doing your job, and following through by dotting
all the I's and crossing all T's.  My suggestion is to (as you said)
work around the issue.  You could always re-write the code from
scratch, as the approaches are not rocket science and are pretty
thoroughly explained.  I wouldn't suggest it unless you are desperate.
 If I were you, I'd wait for a license problem to emerge (which I
don't believe will ever happen).
---

FWIW, I agree.  Personnally, I think that if Debian has a problem with
the above, it's their problem to deal with, not Python's.

--david



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