Re: Debian Legal summary of the X-Oz License
First of all I've been behind on other email as I've been kept busy with
various other things lately. But I think this "summary" is inaccurate
On Wed, Feb 25, 2004 at 09:11:07AM -0500, Simon Law wrote:
> Clause 3 is a complex statement, which appears to be derived from the
> obsolete four-clause BSD license. Although it appears that this clause
> can be satisfied by including the license text as end-user
> documentation, the author has refused to make this point explicit in the
> license. Alternatively, it has an additional option for providing this
> statement within the software itself, which looks like it could be used
> to avoid this additional requirement on the documentation. Since it is
> difficult to ascertain the author's intent, we are not sure whether it
> violates DFSG 9 by contaminating the documentation with which it is
Actually this is Clause 3 from the Apache Software License version 1.1.
It's been well known to be GPL incompatible. As far as I can tell nobody
has had any problem with this clause not meeting the DFSG nor would I
see why they would now. I think Branden's interpretation of this clause
is ridiculously overbroad. Taking the term redistribution in the
context of its use in the license doesn't imply to me any effect of
other software merely aggregated together. But even if you accept this
broad interpretation, the alternative is there. I don't see this as
particularly different from 2c of the GPL when using the alternative.
> Clause 4, however, is more worrisome. When compared to the
> normal three-clause BSD license, we see that the X-Oz license is worded
> very strongly. It not only forbids promotion and endorsement, it also
> forbids the fair-use of the name "X-Oz Technologies", e.g. in a magazine
> review of the Software, without prior written permission.
This is interpretation is seriously reaching. The Apache license and
the BSD license have similar clauses. I'd argue that the Apache license
is much broader here actually.
The Apache license says:
4. The names "Apache" and "Apache Software Foundation" must not be used
to endorse or promote products derived from this software without prior
written permission. For written permission, please contact
5. Products derived from this software may not be called "Apache", nor
may "Apache" appear in their name, without prior written permission of
the Apache Software Foundation.
By the logic presented by Branden the Apache 1.1 license is not DFSG
compliant. In fact Debian couldn't even distribute Apache with patches
without specific permission.
However, the X-Oz license is more narrowly constructed. And IMHO is
identical in effect, though worded in a way that sound scarier, to the
BSD endorsement clause.
None of the products under the X-Oz license are named X-Oz Technologies,
so why exactly do we need a trademark right here? Even if this clause
didn't exist you wouldn't have the rights it says you don't have.
Nor do I see how anyone can possibly construe such a clause to prevent
you from writing a review of the software. Even if you believe that
such a clause is enforceable, which Branden doesn't, you can still write
a review provided you don't mention "X-Oz Technologies." What exactly
is the big deal here?
Does this clause stop you from freely redistributing the software? No
Does this clause stop you from distributing source and/or binaries? No
Does this clause stop derived works? No
Does this clause discriminate against persons, groups or fields of
Does this clause require an additional license for the copyrights? No
Is this clause specific to Debian? No
Does this clause contaminate other software? No
Is the clause necessary? In my opinion No. But it has nothing to do
with the DFSG. I think you realize this because you neglected to
mention which clause of the DFGS Clause 4 violated.
P.S. I'm not speaking for Debian or anyone else. But rather speaking my
own mind. I have no connection with Debian except reading their
debian-legal list and commenting on licenses from time to time.
Ben Reser <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Conscience is the inner voice which warns us somebody may be looking."
- H.L. Mencken