NSA Suite B Cryptography

Sidney Markowitz sidney at sidney.com
Fri Oct 14 16:38:59 EDT 2005

Ben Laurie wrote:
> Incidentally, why the focus on GPL?

Because the NSA's assurances that their license would cover open source
software is probably good enough to allow you to write and contribute
code to a non-GPL open source project if they do not have specific rules
against accepting patent-encumbered code, but the GPL has these two
sections regarding patents. I interpret them as meaning that the only
patent restriction there may be on GPL'd code is that it may not be
distributed in certain countries, but _any_ other restriction makes the
code not distributable under GPL.

[begin quote]
7.  If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent
infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues),
conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or
otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not
excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute
so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and
any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not
distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would
not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who
receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you
could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from
distribution of the Program.

If any portion of this section is held invalid or unenforceable under
any particular circumstance, the balance of the section is intended to
apply and the section as a whole is intended to apply in other

It is not the purpose of this section to induce you to infringe any
patents or other property right claims or to contest validity of any
such claims; this section has the sole purpose of protecting the
integrity of the free software distribution system, which is implemented
by public license practices. Many people have made generous
contributions to the wide range of software distributed through that
system in reliance on consistent application of that system; it is up to
the author/donor to decide if he or she is willing to distribute
software through any other system and a licensee cannot impose that choice.

This section is intended to make thoroughly clear what is believed to be
a consequence of the rest of this License.

8. If the distribution and/or use of the Program is restricted in
certain countries either by patents or by copyrighted interfaces, the
original copyright holder who places the Program under this License may
add an explicit geographical distribution limitation excluding those
countries, so that distribution is permitted only in or among countries
not thus excluded. In such case, this License incorporates the
limitation as if written in the body of this License.
[end quote]

 -- Sidney Markowitz

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