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ActiveState EULA : Is my code safe?

by Anonymous Monk
on Jul 29, 2002 at 04:48 UTC ( #185886=perlquestion: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??
Anonymous Monk has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

As part of the process of evaluating Komodo I read through license agreement. Most of it was pretty standard stuff but I found the "Term" section pretty concerning.

My understanding of it was that they can cancel your right to use the software at any time or "for any reason whatsoever" and demand that you erase the software (that's fine) AND any files created with the software including copies in any other medium (printouts?).

Here's the full section from their website.

3. Term. ACTIVESTATE may terminate this License immediately and without prior notice if you breach any term of this License or for any reason whatsoever. In the event of any termination or expiration, you agree to immediately destroy and/or erase the original and all copies of the SOFTWARE and any files created using the SOFTWARE and to discontinue their use and you will not retain or store the SOFTWARE or any files created using the SOFTWARE or any copies thereof, in any form or medium.

I've never read license language like this before. Have I misread this or does it say what I think it says? How can I possibly get approval to use this tool when the license agreement seems to say they can terminate our license and ask us to erase all our code (created with their editor) whenever they like?

Is anyone else using this software already? How did you get around the license issues with management? Should I even consider using a product that says that in the license? After Kazaa I'm a little more careful about just clicking "OK" anymore. :(

Comment on ActiveState EULA : Is my code safe?
Re: ActiveState EULA : Is my code safe?
by Marza (Vicar) on Jul 29, 2002 at 05:54 UTC

    The termination rule is pretty standard but I have not read of anybody enforcing it.

    As to the files. Well they can't claim ownership of the source. So if you want to be "legal" just copy the source to another file type.

    Think about it. If they could; Microsoft would have claimed ownership of anything ever created from their products.

    Just my .02

      You're exactly right. Just open up each file, copy the source to a new WordPad file, and save it. It's not a big deal; they do not say you must destroy the software created, but the FILES created. And this may very well be because the files are in a proprietary format, so they don't want you using them for other things, or somesuch. But again, there is nothing here to worry about: they cannot claim your files themselves for their own, and they cannot prevent you from copying the source to other files.

      The only slightly troubling thing is the word "immediately," but that is IMO sufficiently vague -- obviously, it cannot expect you to do it immediately, since you may not even have access to your computer at the moment the license is terminated -- that it wouldn't forbid the time it took to copy the data out to other files. And presumably you are backing up your data; if you are that concerned about it, look into a backup script (written in ActivePerl or something that has no such terminology in its license :-) that will automatically copy your data to files of a different type, so if the time comes, you'll already have the backed up, legal, files.

        You are correct. Check to the bottom of the thread. I posted a question to ActiveState and they are going to rewrite the paragraph

Re: ActiveState EULA : Is my code safe?
by toma (Vicar) on Jul 29, 2002 at 07:20 UTC
    There was a Microsoft drawing program a few years back that had a similar license. It said, basically, that Microsoft owned all the drawings that were created with the program.

    Both licenses are unacceptable to me and would need to be changed before I would consider using the software for any purpose.

    This one reminds me of the Dilbert cartoon when Dilbert neglected to read a license agreement and had to become a towel boy at the Gates mansion.

    UPDATE: Thanks to ActiveState for fixing this problem so quickly after it was brought to their attention!

    It should work perfectly the first time! - toma

Re: ActiveState EULA : Is my code safe?
by tjh (Curate) on Jul 29, 2002 at 12:46 UTC
    Hmm. "All your base are belong to us..."

    "...or for any reason whatsoever..."

    I hate arrogance like this.

    "...you agree to immediately destroy and/or erase the original and all copies of the SOFTWARE and any files created using the SOFTWARE and to discontinue their use and you will not retain or store the SOFTWARE or any files created using the SOFTWARE or any copies thereof, in any form or medium. "

    Not that I'd be anxious to be the test case, but I'd bet this is unenforcable considering I bought the product, and they sold it to me, for the known purpose of creating my own code (or whatever), not create code for them. I'm guessing this would never fly in any reasonable courtroom. Maybe ActiveState's lawyers have been reading MS licenses for too long. (IANAL)

    "...does it say what I think it says? "

    Yes. The words mean what they mean and they made no mistakes in their verbiage. Their intended meaning is clear, regardless of whether anyone's ever tried to enforce such language, and in spite of any salesperson's attempt to make you believe it's 'standard' and 'everything will be ok'.

    "How can I possibly get approval to use this tool... "

    Really good question. Maybe it would A Good Thing to have your management call them and tell them they've lost your purchases over this. AS may never understand the consequences of this phrasing without calls like that.

    In the last year or so I'm aware of several companies that have changed their purchasing decisions based on licensing language. One of them negotiated rewritten phrasing, but that gets expensive too.

    Is it possible that companies doing these types of things think that most of their prospects won't read or care about licensing verbiage these days? Maybe they're right <sigh>.

Re: ActiveState EULA : Is my code safe?
by digiryde (Pilgrim) on Jul 29, 2002 at 12:59 UTC

    I have a simple rule of thumb. If the license is restrictive of my work, then I do not use the product. If you have any doubts about why, just think in terms of IP. People get burned all the time because party A (who owns the license) decides to lay claims to party B's work (who merely bought a copy, or signed a contract). At which point, B looses automatically. I realize that most work (today) will never have that done, but who wants to be the victim of robber barons?

    There is to much out there in the world of open source to say that one is locked into a solution like that from the start. The decision may unfortunately not be yours at work, but at least it can be yours at home.

    btw.... I do not use ActiveState products or M$ products to develop. I use open source only.
Re: ActiveState EULA : Is my code safe?
by arturo (Vicar) on Jul 29, 2002 at 20:04 UTC

    The basic idea behind the restrictions seems to be "don't use an evaluation copy of our IDE to generate code you intend to keep." From the lawyers' point of view (yes, they all share a single one, that's what law school is *for* =), that's like stealing from them -- they provide it to you so you can *evaluate* the product, but what you do if you keep the code is enjoy its benefits for free. I suspect they believe that not having such a restriction will impact their revenues.

    What they probably didn't count on is that the ill-will generated may impact their revenues more than legions of would-be Larry Ellisons using the evaluation license to write the world's next killer app, then dumping Komodo altogether. Maybe the idea is to get you to think the IDE will make you *so productive* that you could feasibly follow such a strategy, rather than, oh, I don't know, learn to use a text editor you already have available to you (tho' I confess I'd be lost in Java development without an IDE there, but the one I use is open source).

    Sigh, just one more reason to use foreach( 'vim?', 'x?emacs') =) 1 The answer to the question of whether you should use it is "no," and it would be even cooler if you tell them why you refuse to use it. I mean, they must know what open source is, the thing is built using Mozilla and it is supposed to help you develop in Perl and PHP.

    1 Yes. All of them. And more.

    I mistrust all systematizers and avoid them. The will to a system shows a lack of integrity -- F. Nietzsche

Re: ActiveState EULA : Is my code safe?
by Anonymous Monk on Jul 29, 2002 at 20:12 UTC
    It looks like Visual Perl and Visual Python (and perhaps some of their other tools) have the exact same clause in their licenses. Yikes!
Re: ActiveState EULA : Is my code safe?
by Dog and Pony (Priest) on Jul 30, 2002 at 05:33 UTC
    Should I even consider using a product that says that in the license?

    Well, I wouldn't. :)

    That said, I would give ActiveState the benefit of a doubt - they have done lots and lots for perl (and others) on the windows platform. Of course they have done this to be able ot sell products also, but that is all good, because if they make money, they can survive to continue to contribute.

    The doubt I am willing to give them is that perhaps the ones in charge wasn't the ones who wrote this, and maybe they didn't even look at it - it stinks of lawyer boilerplate a long way, and has happened before (although I have no links available).

    Someone just notify them that the community they depend on will not accept such licenses, and I'm pretty sure they will remove it - maybe we'll even see a lot of dumb faces saying "Huh? What license?"...

    They have done way too much work for me to turn around and start hating them over what at least might be a mistake. If it happens again, though... :)


    You have moved into a dark place.
    It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
Re: ActiveState EULA : Is my code safe?
by ignatz (Vicar) on Jul 30, 2002 at 07:03 UTC
    One thing that would be cool would be if in your evaluation of the software you let ActiveState know about how their license has forced you to not recommend their product for commercial use by your company. Maybe if their sales department gets enough PSYCHO FACIST LICENSE = LESS MONEY IN BANK emails they might stop and think about their ways.

    That's a shame, I thought that they were on the right track with those products. Just another reason to stick with emacs.

    ()-()
     \"/
      `                                                     
    
      One thing that would be cool would be if in your evaluation of the software you let ActiveState know about how their license has forced you to not recommend their product for commercial use by your company.

      If you're going to let a license "force" your decision, it behooves you to be certain that the restriction applies to the purchased product, and not just the evaluation copy.

        Why? A company tries to put their best face forward when they demonstrate goods or services. A customer bases their decision to purchase on that demonstration. If you don't like what you see, don't buy it. It's up to them to make the product as attractive as possible.
        ()-()
         \"/
          `                                                     
        
Re: ActiveState EULA : Is my code safe?
by Desdinova (Friar) on Jul 30, 2002 at 19:40 UTC
    I contacted Activestate's Licencing dept (there is an address on thier contact us page). I got the following reply this afternoon. All I can say is that sometimes it's good to complain.

    Quote Below Here
    Edmund, yep thats my real name

    Thank you for your enquiry.

    The license terms you refer to in your email do not accurately reflect ActiveState's intent. Our original license agreements were based upon boilerplate terminology which is in the process of being reworded. The section you refer to will be replaced with the following wording:

    "Termination. This License Agreement is effective until terminated. ActiveState may terminate this License immediately and without prior notice if you breach any term of this License or for any reason whatsoever. In the event of any termination or expiration, you agree to immediately destroy and/or erase the original and all copies of the Software, any accompanying documentation and License Keys and to discontinue their use and you will not retain or store the Software or any copies thereof, in any form or medium."

    The license agreement for the Perl Dev Kit has already been updated (see http://www.activestate.com/Products/Perl_Dev_Kit/license_agreement.plex) and updated wording for our other license agreements will be posted shortly.

    I assure you that ActiveState in no way intended the wording of our license agreements to establish a claim of ownership over works created using our products.

    Please let me know if I can provide you with any further clarification and please feel free to pass along this information to others. Thank you again for bringing this to our attention.

    Sally Whitehead License Administrator http://www.ActiveState.com
Re: ActiveState EULA : Is my code safe?
by Marza (Vicar) on Jul 30, 2002 at 19:41 UTC

    Sometimes the best thing to do in situations is to simply ask the people who made the rules.

    I went to the ActiveState Site and asked their legal department for a clarification

    This was their responce

    The license terms you refer to in your email do not accurately reflect ActiveState's intent. Our original license agreements were based upon boilerplate terminology which is in the process of being reworded. The section you refer to will be replaced with the following wording: "Termination. This License Agreement is effective until terminated. ActiveState may terminate this License immediately and without prior n +otice if you breach any term of this License or for any reason whatsoever. I +n the event of any termination or expiration, you agree to immediately destr +oy and/or erase the original and all copies of the Software, any accompan +ying documentation and License Keys and to discontinue their use and you wi +ll not retain or store the Software or any copies thereof, in any form or med +ium." The license agreement for the Perl Dev Kit has already been updated (s +ee http://www.activestate.com/Products/Perl_Dev_Kit/license_agreement.ple +x) and updated wording for our other license agreements will be posted shortl +y. I assure you that ActiveState in no way intended the wording of our li +cense agreements to establish a claim of ownership over works created using +our products. Please let me know if I can provide you with any further clarification + and feel free to pass along this information to others. Thank you again fo +r bringing this to our attention. Sally Whitehead License Administrator http://www.ActiveState.com
Re: ActiveState EULA : Is my code safe?
by tjh (Curate) on Jul 30, 2002 at 20:01 UTC
    ++ to Marza and Desdinova for the follow up with ActiveState. Good news!

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