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Re: ELM Copyright

One license analysis, coming up!

I looked at the source package for elm-me+-2.4pl25ME+32.  I did not
read all 107940 lines ;-) However, I read all the readme and install
type documents, and in every file I looked at the places most likely
to contain copyright or license statements.  (Particularly the top).

Most of the files, with the exception of one file marked public
domain, have this kind of declaration:

 *  The Elm Mail System  -  $Revision: 5.6 $   $State: Exp $
 *                      Copyright (c) 1988-1992 USENET Community Trust
 *                      Copyright (c) 1986,1987 Dave Taylor

It corresponds to the main elm license, which is in the "NOTICE" file
in the top directory.  I quote it in full, though I have reformatted
it to make it fit on 75 columns.

|               The Elm(tm) Mail System General Public License
|                   (C) Copyright 1988-1992, USENET Community Trust
|                   (C) Copyright 1986,1987, by Dave Taylor
|                               COPYING POLICIES
|    Permission is hereby granted for copying and distribution of copies
| of the Elm source files, and that of any part thereof, subject to the
| following license conditions:
|       1. You may, without additional permission from the authors,
|          distribute Elm or components of Elm, with or without additions
|          developed by you or by others at no charge.  You may also
|          distribute Elm along with any other product for sale, provided
|          that the cost of the bundled package is the same regardless
|          of whether Elm is included, and provided that those interested
|          only in Elm must be notified that it is a product freely
|          available from the Elm Development Group.

The first sentence grants the right to modify and distribute.  The
second places some limitations on commercial distribution, but no
worse than those in the Artistic License.  We perform the required
notification by including this file in /usr/doc/elm-me+/copyright.

|       2. You may, without additional permission from the authors,
|          distribute copies of the Elm Documentation, with or without
|          additions developed by you or by others at no charge or at
|          a charge that covers the cost of reproducing the copies,
|          provided that the Elm copyright notice is retained.

This is a bit stricter, because of the "at no charge or at a charge
that covers the cost of reproducing the copies" phrase, and it
probably means that there will be no "Elm Users Guide" book in the
retail bookstores.  (More about the documentation later).

|       3. Furthermore, if you distribute Elm software or parts of
|          Elm, with or without additions developed by you or others,
|          then you must either make available the source to all
|          portions of the Elm system (exclusive of any additions
|          made by you or by others) upon request, or instead you
|          may notify anyone requesting source that it is freely
|          available from the Elm Development Group.

This just means you can't distribute binaries without source, just
like the GPL.  It's not as strict, because it allows proprietary

|       4. In addition, you may not omit any of the copyright notices
|          on either the source files, the executable file, or the 
|          documentation, and
|       5. Also, you may not omit transmission of this License agreement with 
|          whatever portions of Elm that are distributed.
|       6. Lastly, any users of this software must be notified that it is
|          without warrantee or guarantee of any nature, express or implied, 
|          nor is there any fitness for use represented.

This is standard stuff, and we take care of it in the /usr/doc/elm-me+

|Software is a malleable thing - especially UNIX - and the authors can
|in no way guarantee that using this program will not cause grievous
|damage to your system.  Of course this isn't anticipated, but if it
|does happen, the authors cannot be held liable for any damages either
|directly or indirectly caused by this event.

This is just a repeat (perhaps an explanation) of the "no warranty"

|Modification of the system is encouraged, providing that the portions
|of the system that are from the original still carry the appropriate
|copyright notices and that the changed sections are clearly delimited
|as such.  The authors requests copies of any changes made to ensure
|that the various versions stay reasonably in sync with each other.
|Please send all revisions to elm@DSI.COM.

Aha, this might be a problem.  elm-ME+ is a patched version of elm,
and I did not see any such clear delimitation.  Michael Elkins has
marked the files he wrote, but either he did not change anything in
the other files or he did not mark his changes.  However, note that
the license already granted permission to modify and distribute, in
article 1 above.  This paragraph says when modification is
"encouraged", and expresses a preference.

|NOTE that it is not permitted to copy, sublicense, distribute or
|transfer any of the Elm software except as expressly indicated herein.
|Any attempts to do otherwise will be considered a violation of this
|license and your rights to the Elm software will be voided.

This asserts that the license applies.

|Comments on the system and/or this licensing agreement is encouraged.
|Send electronic mail to "taylor@intuitive.com".  This license was
|written with help from Scott McGregor.  Thanks Scott!

I trust that these are not requirements, but if necessary they could
easily be fulfilled ;-)

|Elm is a trademark of Dave Taylor. 
|NOTE: Elm is now in the public trust. Comments, suggestions, bug
|reports and the like should be sent to Syd Weinstein; elm@DSI.COM

In conclusion, I see nothing in this license that conflicts with the
DFSG, except perhaps the bit about the documentation.  But I'm afraid
the documentation has worse encumberments than that.  It was written
using the tmac.n macro package, which carries the following statement:

.\" This  package may be circulated freely with the news documentation; it
.\" may not be sold, but is to be distributed with  the  unformatted  news
.\" documents.  However,  the name of the author and the place at which it
.\" was written (in the author's own  time,  of  course)  are  not  to  be
.\" removed  from the package regardless of how it is modified or altered.
.\" Further, please do not distribute this package if you make any changes
.\" because  I  don't want to get bug reports of macros I haven't written;
.\" if you have a goodie you want me to add, send it to me and we'll talk.
.\" (I really do like feedback!)  I'd really appreciate your cooperation.

Note especially the phrase "Further, please do not distribute this
package if you make any changes".  This forbids distribution of
modified versions, which makes it non-free by our rules.  (The
"please" confuses me somewhat, though.  Is this a request or a

At the top there is also "it may not be sold, but is to be distributed
with the unformatted news documents".  I guess that means we can't put
it on a CD for sale.  

Above the paragraph I quoted is another paragraph that I simply do not

.\" This package was written using  only  the  "NROFF/TROFF Users' Guide",
.\" and  therefore  if  you  can run NROFF/TROFF, you can legitimately use
.\" this package.  However, because NROFF/TROFF are proprietary  programs,
.\" I  cannot  place  this  package in the public domain.  This should not
.\" matter, because if you legitimately have  NROFF/TROFF,  you  have  the
.\" documentation; if not, you can't run off the documentation anyway.

I don't know what this means but it doesn't sound convincing :-)

I will leave this issue now and go on to the other licenses.

A part of the sources, namely the "message catalog"
(internationalization?) support, is copyright by Alfalfa Software.
Each file carries the full statement, which reads:

|Copyright 1990, by Alfalfa Software Incorporated, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
|                        All Rights Reserved
|Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this software and its
|documentation for any purpose and without fee is hereby granted,
|provided that the above copyright notice appear in all copies and that
|both that copyright notice and this permission notice appear in
|supporting documentation, and that Alfalfa's name not be used in
|advertising or publicity pertaining to distribution of the software
|without specific, written prior permission.
|If you make any modifications, bugfixes or other changes to this software
|we'd appreciate it if you could send a copy to us so we can keep things
|up-to-date.  Many thanks.

I see no problems here.  It's similar to the BSD stuff, and the
author says that it is the same as the X license.  It grants
permission to modify and distribute, and places no restrictions
on commercial distribution.

Then there are the files added by Michael Elkins.  They just say:

 * This code originally written by Michael Elkins <elkins@aero.org>

at the top.  Perhaps we should ask him for a more explicit license, or
a simple statement that the same conditions apply as for the Elm


It may be necessary to split the Guide files off into a non-free
package, but I see no other incompatibility between Elm and the DFSG.
Joey, do you know whether RMS was talking about the program or about
the documentation?  I remember him talking about the evils of non-free
documentation such as the camel book for perl.

Richard Braakman

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