The rxvt copyright
Recently there has been some concern over rxvt's copyright. In
particular, this copyright contains the following:
> rxvt is Copyright 1992 John Bovey, University of Kent at Canterbury.
> You can do what you like with this source code as long as
> you don't try to make money out of it and you include an
> unaltered copy of this message (including the copyright).
The source for rxvt has been "heavily modified" by many others,
beginning with Robert Nation, and each of the coders who have
contributed to rxvt's development has added his name to the copyright
with the following line attached:
No additional restrictions are applied
I contacted the most recent maintainer for rxvt (i.e., the person
responsible for the latest version of rxvt included in Debian) and
asked him about John Bovey and this rather vague copyright. This was
> [John Bovey is] the original author of _XVT_ (Rxvt is Rob Nation's
> [ stuff deleted ]
> The way I read the copyright, it should be fine to distribute Rxvt in
> binary or source form as long as you don't try to sell it. You can
> still sell a CD containing Rxvt if the price covers media costs,
> distribution costs plus the cost of any other proprietary programmes
> --- such as the Slackware or RedHats configuration tools, but you
> can't try to sell Rxvt.
> I don't see any problem with the copyright notice as it stands.
> I've Cc'd this to the current maintainer in case he wants to add his
> own opinion.
The current maintainer did not reply.
This suggests several questions:
- Should rxvt be moved to non-free?
- Is is worthwhile to track down the original author of xvt, who
hasn't worked on the code since 1992, and ask him to change his
copyright? I don't know how much of xvt's original code is left in
- Will we also need to track down all of the other contributers to
rxvt's development and ask them the same question? After all, their
copyrights say "No additional restrictions are applied," which implies
that they have placed the same copyright restrictions on the code as
the original author.
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