SUMMARY: I'd like to hear from other academic administrators about C licensing

From: Charles Hedrick (hedrick@dumas.RUTGERS.EDU)
Date: Tue Feb 18 1992 - 06:57:13 CST

I had hoped to give a complete count of the responses I got to this
query, but I somehow managed to delete the file in a disk cleanup.
However I got more than a dozen responses. More than half said that
they had one of the Scholarpak licenses that included Sun C with no
limits. Of the others, a number were engaged in discussions with Sun
like ours, and some weren't sure what to do. I didn't find any
(except at small sites) who thought that 100 simultaneous users was a
reasonable site-wide solution for a major university.

There is enough confusion on this issue that it seems worth
summarizing a few things I found out:

1) It appears that the Scholarpak license changed in the fall of 1991
from unlimited to 100 copies of C.

2) As of release 5.0, Sun plans to implement the 100 copies with a
site-wide license manager that will allow a maximum of 100
simultaneous users. Current plans are not to allow multiple license
servers, and not to allow a backup license server in case of failure.

3) Apparently several Sun salespeople realized that these changes were
causing problems with their accounts, but there was no overall
understanding of how many universities were upset. One thing that's
happened recently is that the relevant people within Sun are now
talking with each other.

I think everyone now understands that 100 simultaneous users is
insufficient, and that a single central license manager is not
acceptable. A single machine or network failure at the wrong time
could cause thousands of students to be unable to turn in final
projects. This would not be helpful to Sun's image, to say the least.
The simplest solution, and the one I believe everyone is hoping for,
is to return to the unlimited license. However Sun's reorganization
into separate software and hardware companies have made problems like
this harder than they used to be to deal with. I will be interested
to see how long it takes.

I'd like to suggest to people that they read the contracts they sign.
In the course of this investigation, one place found that their
contract had a limit of 100, although their salesman had told them it
was unlimited. (Nobody was acting in bad faith. They got caught
right at the changeover, and people just didn't look at the paperwork
carefully enough to see that something had changed.) The current
Scholarpak contracts have a really interesting clause, which it's hard
for me to believe anyone would accept: It allows Sun to remove any
products from the scope of the license, at their sole discretion. If
they choose to exercise this, you must remove all copies of it from
your site. They are not required to refund any of your money or
replace the product with anything else. So in theory you could pay
for 8 products and end up getting nothing for your money. Now I don't
really think Sun is going to remove all 8 products (though I think
it's bad practice to sign a license that allows them to do so). But
they have removed products in the past, although they have not
enforced the provision requiring sites to remove the current copies.
This means that if you're buying the 8pack particularly to get one
specific thing (e.g. C or Fortran), there's no guarantee that that
thing will continue to be available to you. And all they'd need would
be some lawyer who gets up on the wrong side of the bed and insists on
carrying out the letter of the contract, and you could have to remove
some piece of software from every backup tape on campus. Sun is
looking into this wording, and I don't get the feeling there will be
much trouble fixing it. This is by no means the only contract we've
seen with absurd provisions. But's it's clear that a number of sites
have signed it. And as far as I can tell, no one has bothered to
complain. I'd really suggest that you read things before signing

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