Re: bugsx is non-free?
Marcin Owsiany writes:
> When preparing my next upload of bugsx to fix an unrelated RC bug, I
> decided to check whether the current debian/copyright file correctly
> reflects the license of the software.
> There's a COPYING file in the main directory with GPLv1 text in it, so
> at first glance it does. However after closer investigation (since the
> sheer existence of such file does not count as a license statement) it
> turns out it does not. Here's a snippet from README:
> | 2) Distribution Policy
> | Permission to use, copy, modify and distribute this software for
> | any purpose and without fee is hereby granted, provided that this
> | copyright notice appear in all copies as well as supporting
> | documentation. All work developed as a consequence of the use of
> | this program should duly acknowledge such use.
> | See the GNU General Public Licence for more information.
> | What does this mean?
> | This means that you can pretty much do with it what you want as
> | long as you don't charge substantially more than the distribution
> | costs for it (of course you have to make the source available).
> | This makes software distributions like Walnut Creek or Infomagic
> | perfectly acceptable.
> | It does NOT matter wether you use it at home or in a comercial
> | environment.
> | If you want to include it in a major commercial distribution you
> | need my permission to do so.
> To me, this seems like an attempt to combine GPLv1 with an additional
> condition that distribution is allowed only provided distributor does
> not charge for the software itself.
> So it seems to me it's against DFSG#1, and thus non-free.
> Is this correct?
This is what we usually call a lawyerbomb; a halfway decent lawyer
could make a case either way. The first paragraph is MIT-like, the
second invokes the GPL, the rest is listed under the "What does this
mean?" heading that makes it sound like a non-binding interpretation
by the author -- which is hazardous since the last paragraph you quote
is not supported by either of the first two paragraphs.
The best way to resolve a lawyerbomb is to contact upstream and ask
them to clarify it one way or the other. If upstream is unreachable,
the question isn't really resolveable. If upstream declines to
clarify (or clarifies by removing mention of the GPL), that is a clear
indication that it is non-free. Ideally, of course, upstream would
clarify by specifying a known DFSG-free license for the software.