It’s just data

Sausages and Uncertainty

Scales of Justice. Based on work Copyright 2007 by Ken A L Coar. All rights reserved. The design and this SVG rendition are protected by copyright law, and may not be used or reproduced without the express permission of the author,

I’ve often found lawyers frustrating.  No matter how carefully you craft a question to only permit answers of yes or no, they always seem to find a way to pick door number 3.

Given that, I should have known better in July when I volunteered to take over a vacancy as Chair of the ASF Legal Affairs Committee when Cliff Schmidt decided to devote more of his time to Literacy Bridge.  And I certainly should have known better than to volunteer to take an unfinished third party licensing policy to completion.

Fast forward to yesterday.  We had an ASF members meeting.  You can see the board results here.  New members were elected too — those names will dribble out as they are informed and (hopefully) accept.

At that meeting, the tables were turned.  Instead of it being me crying for a simple yes or no answer, a number of members, led by Stefano and Ben led the charge and came after me complete with torches and pitchforks.  OK, so I’m exaggerating slightly.  There were no torches.  And only really tiny pitchforkes.  Actually they weren’t pitchforks at all — more like Monty Python-esque taunting.  Oh, and it was not directed at me, exactly.  Just at the lack of closure.  On what clearly must be a series of simple yes and no questions.  I mean really.  For example, is the Creative Commons Attribution license version 2.5 compatible with the Apache License version 2.0?  Surely that is a yes or no question, right?  Actually, no.  But we can quickly come up with a set of guidelines that everybody can live with.  And, after all is said and done, isn’t that what everybody really needs?

But I digress.  Where was I?  Oh, yes, the meeting.  Luckily I had prepared in advance.

My plans here on out is to push for Category X licenses as well as the transition examples to be added to the resolved legal questions.  And to state that the work on best practices and specific limited exemptions for all other licenses (effectively all the licenses known to be in category B, and all licenses yet to be explored) is ongoing.  And with that jedi-like hand wave coupled with the Apache secret weapon: namely an open invitation for all those who are affected by this to join legal-discuss and help work out the issues (also known as the where’s your patch? or thanks for volunteering defense), the villages will once again be peaceful.

Wish me luck.  Oh, and don’t tell anybody about my secret plan.  Nobody reads my blog anyway.

And if any of you out there are lawyers: I’m sorry for the trouble I’ve given you in the past.