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Questions about Commonloops

    We hope to have this portable version done in about 6 weeks.  The
    details of its availability are not finalized, but they will have the
    flavor of "limited permission to copy and use Portable CommonLoops for
    and development".

Some issues to keep in mind while fighting the internal battles at Xerox
over code availability:

1. No object oriented system can be seriously evaluated unless a good
fraction of the community has a chance to run it.  In practice, this
means that it must be portable, and it must be available to the Common
Lisp design community at little or no cost.

2. No object oriented system is going to become a standard for Common Lisp
unless it is very easy for every provider of Common Lisp to implement
the proposal.  In practice that means that there must be a decent
public-domain implementation that can be passed out to all of the
companies and easily installed in their systems.  If the code is tangled
up by proprietary agreements with Xerox, there is no hope that the other
companies will go along with CommonLoops as a standard, even if they
decide that they really like the system.

3. The best solution would be for Xerox to put the implementaiton into
the public domain.  That way, companies that like this package can pick
it up and start using it and there's no artificial barrier to making it
an official standard.  Xerox doesn't gain any tangible advantage from
this, but it will benefit all Common Lisp providers in the long run if
we can come up with an acceptable standard, or even if a good de facto
standard emerges.

4. If it is organizationally impossible for Xerox to put this code into
the public domain, the second best solution is for someone with no
commercial interests (e.g. one of the university groups) to develop a
public-domain implementation, perhaps with some informal advice from
individuals working at Xerox.  This amounts to an end-run around Xerox's
lawyers and bureaucrats.

5. The reason I raise this unpleasantness now is that if CMU, for
example, were to accept a Common Loops implementation from Xerox for
evaluation, that might make it legally impossible for us to go and
implement a public-domain version -- the Xerox lawyers could claim that
we stole their code.  So we should think this through before any code
gets shipped out.

I don't mean to pick on Xerox.  The same issues are raised by H-P's
stuff, by Object Lisp/LMI, and by Flavors/MIT (in matters of licensing
code, MIT behaves more like a large corporation than like a university).

-- Scott