[ntp:questions] poll interval - RFC compliance question

Unruh unruh-spam at physics.ubc.ca
Sun Jun 15 15:22:42 UTC 2008

David Woolley <david at ex.djwhome.demon.co.uk.invalid> writes:

>David L. Mills wrote:

>> statement in the distribution. Note very carefully that there is no 
>> license, only a copyright statement that clearly specifies no fee, no 

>If that were really true (that there was no licence), almost no-one 
>would be able to use the code.  A copyright notice says what is 
>copyright and who owns the copyright.  It just removes doubt as to 
>whether a licence is needed (not much software was written by people who 
>have been dead for 70 years, so most software needs a licence; software 
>written by the US government, at least within the USA, is a special 
>case), and tells you who is able to give that licence.

>A licence is a statement of permission to do things which would 
>otherwise be illegal.  Copying the ntpd code would be illegal without a 

>> restictions on use other than including the copyright statement itself 
>> in derived products.

>The statement that there are no restrictions is actually the licence.

>You may be confused by commercial software, which doesn't use a bare 
>licence, but uses a licence agreement, which is actually a contract. 
>Note that some people argue that bare licences are not possible in many 
>countries.  Some people even argue that bare licences are not valid in 
>the USA.

>To the extent that copyright agreements are optional, their purpose is 
>normally to give you a copy only on the condition that you do not 
>exercise some of the rights that you would have if given the copy 
>without making the agreement.

>I suspect Open BSD's problem is that the statement of permission doesn't 
>actually give all the rights that are restricted by copyright.  In 
>particular, if it says "use", that has a technical meaning that doesn't 
>include copying to give to others.

To quote the license
* Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this software and   *
* its documentation for any purpose with or without fee is hereby     *
* granted

I find it hard to develope a legal theory which makes this restrictive. 

>People in the ntpd community generally assume that the copyright owners 
>will act as though the licence you intended exists, but others may want 
>to act on the basis of what the licence actually says.

 It then helps to actually read the license. 

>Normally the following would be taken as implied, but I will make them 
>explicit, as an example.  I'm not a lawyer, so they may well not be 
>watertight.  You should independently verify any statements about the 
>law made here.

>Copyright notice:  This article is Copyright 2008 David J Woolley of 
>London England.
>Parts prefixed ">" are Copyright 2008 Doctor David L Mills and/or the 
>University of Delaware (and are included under the doctrine of fair use 
>for criticism or review).

>Licence:  David J Woolley grants permission for all acts covered by 
>copyright law which contributors to a USENET newsroup gatewayed to a 
>public mailing list would normally expect to be permitted.

Yee gads. That would be terrible. It would create a legal morass in trying
to define "normally expect to be permitted" Normal for whom, expect by
whom? contributors are an extremely varied bunch. I might expect David
Mills to jump and modify the code at my whim, and that I can sue him if he
does not do so. Does this make it "normally expect"? Does one have to poll
all usenet users to find out what is "normal"?

The words David actually uses in his license are far far clearer.


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