A bit of proposed license-begging etiquette.
> From: Mark Kilgard <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> An "an open bug against GLUT regarding the license"? That is so
> Richard-Stallman-open-source-zealot-idiotic. You have a bug against
> a licensee? Funniest thing I heard all day.
So I realize that this message shows a lack of courtesy on the
part of this individual. I also realize that the Debian package
maintainers do a *lot* of really good work investigating and
negotiating these things. So please don't feel like I'm playing
backseat driver here when I say that it may be possible to avoid
situations like these. I do not accuse any particular person of doing
anything at all wrong!
In a situation like this, it is likely best to avoid
mentioning licenses or copyright until pretty late in the game.
Instead, when approaching a developer, it is best to express things in
terms of "you have given permission to" and "you have told us that we
can do this" and "but here you seem to contradict yourself, could you
Pretend that the developer has personally written you a letter
telling you what you may do with the software, and you're asking for
clarification. Act as though the developer in question wrote the GPL
from scratch, and meant every word. That's what the courts will
As for the bug against the license, you may be able to
mitigate this by explaining that these terms here and here are a
statement from the developer, and that the contradiction is a sort of
bug. I'd imagine that would make sense even to someone who sees all
license nit-pickers as "idiot zealots".
> What would it mean for someone to not have the "right to modify
> the code"? Are you saying I'm going to keep someone from editing
> GLUT source files on their own hard drive? Exactly how would I do
> that? Better yet, why would I even care?
Of course, the man has a point here. The maintainer should be
explicit in stating what the practical effects of any contradictions
are. If it does turn out that the author does not want you to
distribute modified versions (or doesn't want to grant you some other
permission required to meet the DFSG), then the maintainer must be
It is far too easy to take the attitude of "The DFSG is
correct and all these licenses are incorrect", especially when one has
a moral or ethical attachment to Free Software. Coming across as a
snooty license bigot is a big mistake (and I'm not saying that's what
happened here--in fact, it looks like the author jumped to more than a
few conclusions). Realize that you are asking the author for a
*favor*, and that the burden of proving it worthwhile is up to you.
"Your program is really great, but Debian is a large project.
We need to be able to modify your program and redistribute it with
Debian. Since we want other people to be able to modify Debian, the
program would have to let everyone distribute modified versions. I
understand if you don't want to do this."
INFORMATION GLADLY GIVEN BUT SAFETY REQUIRES AVOIDING UNNECESSARY CONVERSATION
01234567 <- The amazing* indent-o-meter!
^ (*: Indent-o-meter may not actually amaze.)