ZFS License and Future

Chad Perrin perrin at apotheon.com
Sun Nov 7 21:02:34 UTC 2010

On Sun, Nov 07, 2010 at 05:17:19PM +0000, Matthew Seaman wrote:
> On 06/11/2010 16:10, Chad Perrin wrote:
> >   Will Oracle lawyers
> > find some patent related to the creation of that software the company
> > "owns" and use that to sue you if you fork the project to ensure the
> > survival of your own development projects?  It seems somewhat likely,
> > somehow.
> Oracle couldn't sue for patent violations on software that they (or
> their predecessors) had released and that people were using as-is.
> That's legitimate use under license from the software's originators.

How long are you planning to use it as-is, without making any changes, if
Oracle ceases support for an open source version?

> Nor could they sue successfully over some completely novel
> implementation that avoided patented areas.

1. That's kind of irrelevant to my point.

2. That is prone to being a lot of work to end up with something
suboptimal -- unless you're talking about using something other than
Oracle software, in which case you're just agreeing with me at this

> An interesting question is: could they sue over use of patented feature
> 'foo' in a forked copy of the software, where the code implementing
> 'foo' was still identical to the original version and where any
> substantial novel work was on other, unpatented, areas?  This flies in
> the face of the original intent of granting patents; that innovators
> should be able to claim the benefits of their own work in order that
> innovation be encouraged.

The original intent of granting patents:

1. has not been in evidence in the patent system for a century or so

2. has largely been proven bogus, to anyone willing to consider the

> I doubt that any free software project would have sufficient funds to
> pursue such a case through the courts.

This is the problem.

> I take comfort from the example of OpenBSD and CARP vs. Cisco and HSRP.
>  Open source projects have been here before, and survived by doing what
> open source projects do best: writing code.

Some have.  Others have folded under the pressure.  That latter case is
why people worry about it -- and why they tend to prefer to use stuff
that is not in danger of unpleasant lawsuits in the first place.

Chad Perrin [ original content licensed OWL: http://owl.apotheon.org ]
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