Subject: Re: clarify the lame license?
To: None <>
From: Greg Troxel <>
List: tech-pkg
Date: 02/03/2005 11:28:32
I had some further thoughts:

The point of license variable in pkgsrc is to prevent people from
accidentally doing something they would rather not do.

For patents, people might decide based on several things:

  software patents are not in general valid in their jurisdiction
  the particular patent is not issued/in force in their jurisdiction
  their counsels opines that the patent is not valid 
  they have a license

This boils down to saying either "ignore patent issues" (first point)
or "don't worry about this particular patent" (the rest, for various
reasons, and it's not our concern which).

So, I propose:

 Allow LICENSE to have multiple values.

 Make all patent license variables be patent-foo, in this case perhaps

 Require that all tokens be present in ACCEPTABLE_LICENSES, with the
 token patent-* matching all patent- LICENSE members.

 Add patent-foo to a package's LICENSE variable if there is a patent
 claim that has any credibility (no evaluation of validity; that might
 be dangerous for TNF).

Also, I find "fee-based-commercial-use" to be awkward.  I have at
times installed xv on a computer at work, solely for personal and not
work use, so I accepted the licennse (keeping in mind restrictions,
and only using it for personal things).  But I don't want that to in
general accept shareware just because I accepted xv.  With
fee-based-commercial-use, I might have paid a fee to one company, but
that only authorizes the use of their code, so
is not in general appropriate.

So perhaps changing those to


meaning that there is a restriction on commercial use (ignoring the
problems associated with controlling use by copyright), and that after
paying foo one can use bar commercially.

Then, allow commercial-* to match any of these, so that people who are
using their systems solely in a non-commercial manner can ignore all
of this at once if they so choose.

(I really appreciate NetBSD's care in licensing issues; I don't mean
to sound otherwise.)

  From: Alistair Crooks <>

  On Thu, Feb 03, 2005 at 09:10:17AM -0500, Greg Troxel wrote:
  > But, certainly whatever info is in the distribution should be pulled
  > into the license file, so people can make their own decisions.
  >   LICENSE=       fee-based-commercial-use
  > This doesn't make sense.  Patents don't distinguish between commercial
  > and non-commercial use, and I didn't see anything on the web when
  > looking just now that indicates a royalty-free license is granted for
  > noncommercial use of encoding.

  In pkgsrc, when dealing with licensing issues, we err on the side of

I concur with that general position, but it would lead me to say
fee-based-use, not fee-based-commercial-use - noncommercial use
infringes just the same as commercial use, at least in the US.  My
comments above about lack of granularity of things like
fee-based-commercial-use stand, though, since adding that license for
one item when one has decided that the proposed use is proper for some
reason shouldn't automatically extend to other packages.

        Greg Troxel <>