[pkg-nvidia-devel] nvidia-cuda-toolkit licensing

Russ Allbery rra at debian.org
Sun Jul 25 05:26:29 UTC 2010

Joerg Jaspert <joerg at debian.org> writes:

>> However, when I reviewed the license terms for this package, I noticed
>> that it has a term that wasn't present in the license for the regular
>> graphics drivers, namely:


>>   This Agreement will continue in effect for two (2) years ("Initial Term)
>>   after Your initial download and use of the SOFTWARE, subject to the
>>   exclusive right of NVIDIA to terminate as provided herein. The term of
>>   this Agreement will automatically renew for successive one (1) year
>>   renewal terms after the Initial Term, unless either party provides to
>>   the other party at least three (3) months prior written notice of
>>   termination before the end of the applicable renewal term.

>> I'm concerned that this would be a problem for non-free due to our
>> snapshots and archives of old distributions of Debian.  Have you run into
>> this sort of thing before with other packages that were aimed at non-free?
>> Do we have a policy about this sort of clause for non-free software?

> What do they want from us here? It seems to extend the duration of the
> time the license affects us for at least one year after we removed it
> from non-free (or two years, should we remove it the day after accepting
> it), automatically extending this another year until we tell each of our
> users that we removed this software, 3 months before this fictive
> renewal term (i guess day of acceptance in Debian)?  How would such a
> notice look? Normal entry in our removals file?  Personal mail to all
> downloaders? debian-news/debian-announce mail?  Release notes?

I'm not at all sure.  I think the idea is that the license terms are
guaranteed for two years, and automatically extends indefinitely unless
NVIDIA (or the person downloading it, but that's less likely) gives the
other party written notice saying they aren't going to renew it.  It's
very strange, since as you mention I have no idea how that written notice
is expected to be delivered either direction.

The only practical effect is probably that NVIDIA can provide three month
notice saying that they don't want the software to be redistributed any

> Also, does it affect Debian directly?
>  1.1     "Licensee," "You," or "Your" shall mean the entity or individual
>  that downloads and uses the SOFTWARE.
> We dont use the software.

Yeah, and also you weren't the ones who downloaded it.  So the license
seems to be with the person who packaged it.

> Though I can not see any bad in the license for Debian, besides this
> thing being stupidly unclear for redistribution. The rights are fine
> (for non-free shit), the limitations also. What thing is extended there
> for us?

It's as ridiculously ambiguous as many of the non-free licenses.

> The other two paragraphs in that §3 are actually much easier and
> clearer.
>  This Agreement will automatically terminate if Licensee fails to comply
>  with any of the terms and conditions hereof. In such event, Licensee must
>  destroy all copies of the SOFTWARE and all of its component parts.

> Except that we dont destroy. We remove, following our normal
> procedure. (Removing from archive, disabling access on snapshot)

I think this doesn't apply to us, though, since it's hard to see how we
would fail to comply with the terms, given that the terms are pretty
wide-open for Linux software.

Thank you for the review here!  It sounds like it's not as much of an
issue as I was worried that it would be.

More concerning, now that I got a chance to start looking at this again
today, is that there are several things in this toolkit that are covered
by the GPL, but NVIDIA isn't distributing any source so far as I can tell
and I don't see any offers of source.  If I can get that figured out, I'll
probably upload this for more comprehensive review (since as I read your
message you didn't see any problems for Debian -- if I misunderstood, let
me know).

Russ Allbery (rra at debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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