SAX2: Which license?

David Megginson david at
Mon Jan 10 19:08:12 GMT 2000

Paul Prescod writes:

 > Let me pretend to be a lawyer, and then a consultant.

 > It is highly debatable that APIs and other software to software
 > interfaces are protectable. 

Yes, I should be clearer here -- I wouldn't try to copyright more than
the specific *expression* of the API in Java, C++, etc., but it would
still be possible for someone to create an entirely compatible one
from scratch.  Life on Linux would be very dull if we didn't have
work-alikes for the Unix C library (glibc), OpenGL (Mesa), and other
similarly important stuff, not to mention the Unix system call

 > The case law is muddled but the "common practice" is quite
 > clear. Would Microsoft allow Wine or Samba if they thought that the
 > Windows API or SMB protocols were protectable? 

They're thinking about it.  Have you read the Microsoft Halloween

 > How about the re-implementations (against Sun's wishes) of the Java
 > API?  

To be fair, I think that Sun's license does explicitly allow that,
even if the execs don't like it.

 > Note that Sun protects the Java API through *trademark law* not
 > copyright. 

The W3C protects XML in a similar fashion.


 > Consultant:
 > What problem are you trying to solve?

Wow!  You sound just like a real consultant, except that the first
question should have been "How much money do you have to spend?"

 > Whatever it is, licenses designed for code are not likely to reach
 > your goals with respect to an API. If you want to allow anyone to
 > use SAX anywhere in any way for any project then what's wrong with
 > putting it in public domain? Other licenses exist to stop some
 > particular action (e.g.  commercial use). What are you trying to
 > prevent?
 > I use implementations of SAX (parser, app and infrastructure library)
 > that do not in any way use code from your site. I don't see how your
 > license can affect that use at all.

I'll take this as a (very well-reasoned) vote for leaving SAX2 in the
Public Domain, just like SAX1.  With SAX1, I made that decision rather
autocratically (I just did it), but I'd like to hear a range of
opinions before we commit to a license for SAX2.

All the best,


David Megginson                 david at

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