[llvm-dev] RFC #3: Improving license & patent issues in the LLVM community

Chris Lattner via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Wed Apr 26 21:36:17 PDT 2017

> On Apr 24, 2017, at 4:33 AM, Pavan Maddamsetti <pavan.maddamsetti at gmail.com> wrote:
> Several people have made statements along the lines of “I am not a lawyer.” Why should such a statement be necessary?

See wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IANAL

> Chris, you have mentioned that the lawyers working on this are “super smart legal folks.”  No doubt that is true. But I ask, if they are so smart, why were they not able to take a path of less resistance: to simply add a new document about patents?

This was covered in the first round of discussion: we don’t want to “innovate” with a novel legal solution.  The Apache 2 license is extremely well known and widely used.  This makes it easier for people to contribute to LLVM, because they know what Apache 2 means.  A novel solution is bad both because it may end up being “buggy”, but also because it reduces adoption simply through novelty.

> Why go to the trouble of dragging the community through a multi-year relicensing process?

This was also covered in the first email, the motivations should be obvious.

> Lawyers are not cheap, and this drawn out process must have cost a pretty penny. From a project supported by volunteers.

We are fortunate that the super smart lawyers in question were sponsored by the 4-5 respective companies that they work for, they did not come at direct expense to the LLVM community.  We are also fortunate that Heather Meeker donated her time pro bono to the LLVM Foundation.  We are getting the best result at zero direct cost to the community, this is a good thing.

> The overarching theme that I perceive is that developer resources are being misused. People are wasting time debating legal terminology instead of writing software. Many have expressed doubts about what the new license requires in terms of attribution, and whether they will have to make changes or risk being sued. And the donations of many supporters and volunteers are being spent on high-priced lawyers.
> Please reconsider whether this is the right thing to do, or if there is a simpler, easier way that all of us can support.

As you say, given that you are not a contributor to LLVM, I realize that you do not understand why this entire effort is important.  The goals and motivations were explained in the first round of discussion.  Simply put, we are working to ensure that the LLVM community is stable and robust for the long term (e.g. next 20 years).  Trust me, I would not have wasted my personal time on this if I didn’t personally think it were really really important.


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