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» SmaugMuds.org » General » General Discussions » A question on licensing
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A question on licensing
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Post is unread #61 Feb 8, 2008, 10:47 pm   Last edited Feb 8, 2008, 10:49 pm by eldhamud
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eldhamud
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Thats actually a great idea Samson and one that i never thought of. I know i am rather interested in hearing what if anything that they have to say. As far as US law and software goes, those guys have their finger on the pulse of what is right and wrong and they offer free software projects legal advice as well.

Your questions are well constructed, i wish i had composed mine in such a professional manner and the great thing is you can directly quote them from the email reply given, something that was very hard to do from my phone call.
       
Post is unread #62 Feb 9, 2008, 2:07 am   Last edited Feb 9, 2008, 9:39 am by Samson
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David Haley
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eldhamud said:

As far as US law and software goes, those guys have their finger on the pulse of what is right and wrong and they offer free software projects legal advice as well.

Which, of course, establishes their bias. I'm not saying that they are wrong, but if you asked the same question to, say, EFF lawyers and RIAA lawyers you might get different responses.

[Edit: Quote misattributed]
       
Post is unread #63 Feb 9, 2008, 3:44 am
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eldhamud
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I don't know about that David. My opinion is that its a great idea. Real lawyers who will give some real opinion on the subject can only ever be a good thing and none of them have bias or invested interest in what we do. I think at times our own judgment and interpretations are swayed by our own vested interests and personal thoughts of other members of the Smaug community.
       
Post is unread #64 Feb 9, 2008, 9:43 am
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Samson
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You can't eliminate bias from anything in life. In this case, if making judgments on US law is supposed to be biased, it's one I'm willing to accept since this issue is being discussed in terms of US law. It would also make little to no sense for me to consult an RIAA lawyer on an issue of software copyrights when their biases are clearly slanted toward music copyrights. The EFF is also more appropriate to consult on software patent issues, and last I checked none of us are seeking patents on our ideas.
       
Post is unread #65 Feb 9, 2008, 6:23 pm
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David Haley
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My point was neither that we should talk to the EFF nor the RIAA. My point was that certain groups might have bias slanted towards one direction rather than the other. If you prefer, then asking a very-pro-GPL group might get you different answers than talking to a group that doesn't like the GPL so much. Clearly asking them is more worthwhile than asking a bunch of armchair lawyers but I still wouldn't take it as definitive until it hits the courts.
       
Post is unread #66 Feb 9, 2008, 6:45 pm
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Samson
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I don't know David, sometimes I think you're pushing this whole "let the courts rule" thing a bit far sometimes. When it's just us running around armchairing then whatever. It doesn't matter what any of us says or does. I'm also not seeking help with the GPL. I already despise that particular license for its viral conditions. I prefer the modified BSD. Short, simple, easy to understand. These guys deal in more than just the GPL though.

It certainly carries more weight though if you go to real lawyers, obtain real advice, and share that with folks. Assuming the lawyers don't mind you doing that. And also assuming you're prepared to believe what they say even if it goes against whatever agenda you might have. I get the feeling no matter what kind of advice is offered it won't matter. We've all seen folks who claim they spoke to their professors, spoke to their lawyer friends, or spoke to some other claimed legal authority. But so far nobody has gone even as far as I'm doing by asking a well respected authority on the subject for legal advice.

If the Software Freedom Center wants money for this advice, I'm willing to consider paying them for it as long as it's not a ridiculously high amount. Paid legal advice based on solid precedent is worth its weight in gold. Lawyers don't tend to go around dispensing bad advice when compensated for it. They get sued for things like that. So it provides them a huge incentive to do the research and offer you a solid opinion.
       
Post is unread #67 Feb 9, 2008, 7:04 pm
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David Haley
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Samson said:

I'm also not seeking help with the GPL.

Please don't make me say that I'm arguing by analogy... :wink:

Samson said:

Paid legal advice based on solid precedent is worth its weight in gold.

But that's the problem, isn't it? Is not the whole problem that there hasn't been much solid precedence? They can give advice based on the text of the law and how they believe it will be interpreted, but if there were a solid body of case law on this whole issue a lot of these questions would be moot already. That is why I brought up the courts: it certainly is not to say that the legal advice will be useless or have no weight, it is to say that it might not be as definitive as you are making it out to be.
       
Post is unread #68 Feb 9, 2008, 7:23 pm
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eldhamud
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it certainly is not to say that the legal advice will be useless or have no weight, it is to say that it might not be as definitive as you are making it out to be.


Definitive, NO, you only have to look at say criminal law and see that if you get the right judge, the right defense team and a few technicalities that you can pretty much get off anything. Did someone say OJ.

What it would do is this, be a point of reference for anyone who wished to argue matters of Diku, or when someone wanted to push some extreme view thats not currently accepted as being the meaning of the license.. This alone will be pretty much and end to argument situation for the great majority. And while Eben Moglen himself wont reply to this email, i personally have enough faith in his team or students to provide credible and honest answers to the questions posed by samson.

Like all law advice you have to accept that the person dispensing that advice is being honest in how they interpret the laws at hand and then take it with a grain of salt when you set sued. All in all it still comes back on the individual to make the choice on what to do with that advice.

Its not like The Freedom Law Center is run by Linel Hutz Atourney at Law Thingy.
       
Post is unread #69 Feb 9, 2008, 7:25 pm
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David Haley
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eldhamud said:

Definitive, NO, you only have to look at say criminal law and see that if you get the right judge, the right defense team and a few technicalities that you can pretty much get off anything. Did someone say OJ.

That's a little different, though. There's a difference between there being established precedence, and then proving that a given case meets that precedence.

eldhamud said:

What it would do is this, be a point of reference for anyone who wished to argue matters of Diku, or when someone wanted to push some extreme view thats not currently accepted as being the meaning of the license..

Granted. Again, the point wasn't that it would be useless...
       
Post is unread #70 Feb 10, 2008, 12:35 pm
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Samson
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I don't think it's going to matter who responds to the email, so long as someone actually does. Even if it's to tell me to get lost :)

I'd just like to get some solid answers from someone on this who actually performs real work in the field instead of all the pseudo-lawyers we've heard from to date.
       
Post is unread #71 Feb 14, 2008, 8:24 pm
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Samson
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Doesn't look like the Software Freedom Law Center is going to resolve this for us. This was the only response I got back:

Mr. Libiez,

Unfortunately, we at the Software Freedom Law Center cannot offer to
provide you legal assistance at this time because matters for our
current clients have exhausted our staff's capacity. I advise you to
seek competent counsel licensed in your jurisdiction to help you with
your legal needs. We wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.

Warm regards,
-- Daniel B. Ravicher, Legal Director Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) 1995 Broadway, 17th Fl., New York, NY 10023
       
Post is unread #72 Feb 14, 2008, 8:50 pm
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David Haley
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We could try asking drrck, he could probably set us straight. :wink:

The SFLC has a pretty nice address, incidentally... nice part of town.
       
Post is unread #73 Feb 15, 2008, 6:14 pm
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Darwin
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DavidHaley said:

We could try asking drrck, he could probably set us straight. :wink:

:stare:
       
Post is unread #74 Feb 15, 2008, 10:50 pm
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eldhamud
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Damn that sucks, I was sort of hoping that they might take the time to actually do what they say they do. I know i will never donate to those scummy asses again.
       
Post is unread #75 Feb 15, 2008, 11:00 pm
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Samson
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I don't think I'd go so far as to call them scummy asses. They like any other company have limited resources. If they're stretched to the limit, then so be it.
       
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