Apple and Open Source

Ean R . Schuessler ean at
Fri Mar 26 22:00:11 UTC 1999

On Wed, Mar 24, 1999 at 11:57:08PM -0700, Richard Stallman wrote:
> The requirement to publish changes, even if the changes are not being
> used by the public in any way, violates an essential privacy right.

I had never understood the right to privacy to be a goal of Free Software
licensing. The GPL, in fact, arguably removes the right to keep personal
coding techniques private.

> The requirement to notify a specific party when you release a modified
> version is perhaps not fatal, but I have a bad feeling about it.

Agreed. Still, are we saying that this is "not fatal" in the sense that
a license with this property is still Free Software?

>     The patent clauses are curious and I can see the danger in the fact that
>     Apple can keep you from ever getting a chance to fight a patent in court.
>     On the other hand, Apple has granted use of an unknown number of patents
>     for use in free software. This seems like a good thing.
> These are two separate actions.  The latter would be a good thing, not
> a problem, of course, but the former is a problem.

So, then perhaps the requirement to make your code available publicly if used
for commercial purposes is ok but the termination of copyright due to patent
litigation is not.

> (Though in fact they have not granted "use in free software" of these
> patents, only use in this particular software, whose freeness or not
> is the question here.)

I agree that this is a "bug" in their license. But this touches on the 
larger and more complex matter of "Free" but incompatible licenses. As
the GPL demonstrates, limiting the use of your intellectual property to 
a particular sphere of other licensed material is apparently fair play.

Ean Schuessler                Director of New Products and Technologies
Novare International Inc.        The Unstoppable Fist of Digital Action
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