Re: Copyright question
From: John Goerzen <email@example.com>
From: Kees Lemmens <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Yep, as long as the CDROM's are sold for reasonable prices: all software on
> these distributions is free, so they only should be paid for their efforts
> to put it on the CD's. I think a maximum of approx. 20-25 $ could be
> tolerated imo.
> If the prices get higher, they really are going to make illegal profit of
> the work of people who intended software to be free and who for that reason
> don't charge any money for it and that is something that should be avoided
> if you ask me. (did you ? :-))
I'm Bruce Perens, project leader for Debian. I have your mail with John
Goerzen. It's clear that you don't want people to make an un-deserved
profit from your software. I've included a _draft_ copy of the Debian
"social contract" with this message, because it gives a set of guidelines
that we are considering for the free software within Debian.
I've written and GPL-ed a number of software packages, including the
"Electric Fence" malloc debugger and various pieces of Debian. Electric
Fence is currently distributed by Red Hat, Caldera, LST, and of course
My "take" on the "un-deserved profit" is that it _will_not_happen_ in the
case of free software. The reasons for this are:
1. The user can always get the software from a free source. This is
documented in the license that the user gets with their (paid) CD.
The availability of free software is also well-documented on the
Internet, so there is little chance that someone would pay a lot for
a CD with the specific aim of acquiring your package.
2. In the case that the vendor is charging a large amount for a CD, they
are generally selling something else, like service or system integration,
and the presence of your software would not make up a large part of the
value of their system.
3. In the case that someone wants to make a commercial product that is
tightly integrated with your software, if it is GPL-ed they would either
have to give away _their_ source code or negociate a special license
So, I am OK with GPL-ing my programs, and I'd encourage you to do so as
I've appended the Debian free software guidlines draft document.
We are Software In The Public Interest, producers of the Debian GNU/Linux
system. This is the "social contract" we offer to the free software
We promise to keep our GNU/Linux system entirely free software.
As there are many implementations of free software, we include the
guidelines we use to determine if software is "free" below. We will
support our users who develop and run non-free software on Debian, but
we will never make the system depend on an item of non-free software.
We will contribute to the free software world. When we write new
software, we will license it as free software. We will make the best
free-software system we can, so that free software will be widely
|distributed and easily used. We will feed back bug-fixes, improvements,
|user requests etc. to the "upstream" authors of software included in our
|system. We will keep a publically accessible bug-tracking system to assist
We will be guided by the needs of our users and the free-software
community. We will put their interests first, heeding the needs
of other interests such as commercial software manufacturers only when
that is important to fulfill our users needs.
The Debian Free Software Guidelines
1. The software may be redistributed by anyone. The license may restrict
a source file from being distributed in modified form, as long as it
allows modified binary files, and files that are distributed along
with the source for the express purpose of modifying the source.
2. The license may not restrict any party from selling or giving
away the software, nor may it require a royalty or license fee.
3. The license must not discriminate against any person or group of
| persons unless their use would violate a law of the country from
| which the software is distributed.
4. The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program
| in a specific field of endeavor where such use would not violate the
| laws of the country from which the software is distributed. For example,
it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being
used for genetic research.
5. The program must include source code, and must allow distribution in
source as well as binary form.
6. The rights attached to the program must apply to all to whom the
program is redistributed without the need for execution of an
additional license by those parties.
7. The rights attached to the program must not depend on the program's
being part of a Debian system. If a person extracts the program from
Debian and uses it or distributes it without Debian, that person and
any people to whom the program is redistributed should have the same
rights as those that are granted in conjunction with the Debian system.
8. The license must not place restrictions on other software packages that
are distributed on the same software medium. For example, the license
must not insist that all other programs distributed with it must be
|The "GPL", "BSD", and "Artistic" licenses are examples of licenses that we
Bruce Perens K6BP Bruce@Pixar.com 510-215-3502
Finger bruce@master.Debian.org for PGP public key.
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