re: BOCU patent (was: Re: Medievalist ligature character in the PUA)

From: verdy_p (
Date: Fri Dec 18 2009 - 07:58:37 CST

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    "Doug Ewell" wrote:
    > I don't count it as a free license for free use if I have to use a
    > certain vendor's tool, no matter how wonderful it is -- especially if
    > that tool has licensing terms, no matter how liberal they are. This
    > might be fine for some technologies and file formats, but we are talking
    > about a *character encoding*, for heaven's sake. I should be able to
    > write my own implementation in 6502 assembly code if I want to.

    You don't have to use ICU actually. ICU components can be fully isolated and rewritten in any other language.
    But you have to include its licence as your new work will be a derived work based on a copyrighted work, even if it
    does not use any piece of its source code.

    Given that the ICU licence does not even restrict the type of application you can build with it and does not
    restrict you to even apply your own additional licencing terms (as long as you just keep the copyright notice (from
    IBM and others) and the denial of any warranty (from IBM and others), you can do all you want with it, including
    building a closed-source program (the ICU licence does not forces you to reveal your source code for the derivative

    Almost all softwares today include several copyright notices (even if they don't even include any piece of the
    origiinal source code): this includes Internet Explorer 8 (I think that there's now absolutely nothing left from the
    initial NCSA Mosaic source code, but the copyright notice is still there, as IE8 remains a derived work). There are
    comparable multiple licences in Safari, Chrome, MS Office, lots of graphics tools (because of their support of
    various file formats or data compression formats, and that use BSD-style licences, or the X-like licence used in ICU
    which adds the denial of warranty from the licensors).

    But if you effectively want to write exactly the same implementation of BOCU-1 (completely written by you) *without*
    including the ICU licence, you'll need a patent licence or an authorization from IBM (and respect its specific terms
    in your own distribution), or use another compliant (and authorized) library.

    The most probematic terms in the ICU licence, for use in a commercial application, is probably the denial of
    warranty, which may exclude your software of being selected by your own customers (unless you add a separate offer
    for such support by you instead of by "IBM and others"). The copyright notice itself is not a big problem (just
    include this line in the "about" box of your program, or in its companion documentation

    [E.g. My flat HDTV set (built by Philips) includes such a documentation booklet provided in the carton pack,
    specifying all the licencing terms of the various pieces of softwares included in this box, including the GPL
    licence and the offer for the source code and documentation about how to install a modified version of the covered
    pieces of softwares (including its binary interfaces with the rest of the system, because it is built with a Linux
    kernel). It includes licencing terms for some common graphic libraries, or for some web components, for various
    audio/video renderers, for a web server, for a media streaming server, for PnP, DLNA, USB, networking support
    drivers for Ethernet and WiFi drivers, and some printer drivers... and it also includes the ICU licence. All these
    licencing terms and the rest of the printed documentation is also accessible on a provided CDROM, and is also
    accessible from the Help menu, with the remote control, and directly readable on the HDTV, which also includes the
    facility of printing it on a printer connected to one of its USB ports or autodetected on the LAN.]

    For this reason, I don't consider the ICU licence intrusive and blocking, and BOCU-1 as provided through ICU, is
    both a free (FSF definition) and open (OSI definition) software which does not restrict rewriting it completely.

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