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Copyright lawyer advises "be careful" using Python?

P: n/a
I was scanning the 9/13/2006 issue of the "Electronic Commerce & Law
Report," which is a newsletter for lawyers published by BNA. They have
an article headlined "Game Developers Making Tomorrow's Hits Face Host
of Copyright Issues Along the Way," and the article is mostly a writeup
of a speech given by Paul Tauger, identified as "an IP attorney with
Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, San Francisco." It contains this
final paragraph:

"Be Careful Using Open Source Tools. Game developers are under
constant pressure to deliver games under tight deadlines. Open source
software tools can help speed the development process, but may carry
with them certain legal risks, Tauger explained. One open source tool
popular with the game development community is Python. Unfortunately,
the Python Software Foundation's license agreement leaves a lot of
unanswered questions about the origin and precise ownership of the
tool's code. The license refers to six separate entities that, at one
point or another, contributed to the tool's development. PSF's license
disclaims any warranties of non-infringement and disavows any
indemnification obligation. In theory, if some aspect of Python was
deemed to infringe copyrighted code, it could create legal headaches
for game developers who rely upon the tool to build certain parts of
their games. 'Be aware of the risks attendant,' Tauger said." (page
914)

What is our response? Is the PSF that much different from any other
open source license? Can anyone identify everyone who ever contributed
to the Linux source code? Does ANY free "tool" indemnify people? In
fact, does Microsoft indemnify Visual Studio users against the risk
that one day the BASIC language will be found to have been infringing a
patent all along?

Sep 26 '06 #1
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P: n/a
jo********@gmail.com wrote:

Is the PSF that much different from any other open source license?
Only in not having a copyleft and therefore being potentially usable by
companies wishing to develop closed software. Generally such companies
wouldn't even consider using GPL'd software so they don't care whether or
not it has patent issues.
Can anyone identify everyone who ever contributed to the Linux source
code? Does ANY free "tool" indemnify people?
Probably not, and probably not.
In fact, does Microsoft indemnify Visual Studio users against
the risk that one day the BASIC language will be found to have been
infringing a patent all along?
I'm afraid they do.

From
http://download.microsoft.com/downlo...455f-9927-986e
46cab2ae/Yankee_Indemnification_Report.pdf (dated 2004):
Microsoft
Microsoft provides the broadest, most specific indemnification
available in the industry. If a corporate customer licenses Microsoft
software through the Volume License channel, Microsoft will compensate
that customer for any legal costs should any company assert any type
of IP infringement claim related to the software covered by the
license agreement. All Microsoft Volume Licensing customers
automatically receive this protection.
As of November 10, Microsoft expanded its indemnification to include
consumers and corporate customers. Microsoft’s IP indemnification for
Volume Licensing is comprehensive and does not include a cap. It
addresses customer requests that Microsoft completely cover damages
and settlements on IP claims that are within its control.
There are some reasonable limitations for claims that are not solely
within Microsoft’s control. For example, Microsoft will not indemnify
for damages arising from non- Microsoft components.
I'm sure the actual terms and conditions are spelled out somewhere, that's
just the first document I found with a reasonable description of what they
offer.
Sep 26 '06 #2

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