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Re: ELM Copyright

On Sat, 11 Oct 1997, Richard Braakman wrote:

> Dale Scheetz wrote:
> > On Fri, 10 Oct 1997, Santiago Vila Doncel wrote:
> > > On Fri, 10 Oct 1997, Craig Sanders wrote:
> > > 
> > > > > 	IMHO, with thats license, `elm' cannot be sold alone.  
> > > > 
> > > > that's not true.  you can sell elm on a disk by itself as long as you're
> > > > prepared to sell a blank disk for the same price.
> > > 
> > > Maybe, but the *spirit* of the license is that you can not charge for
> > > *distributing* ELM proper. This is against our DFSG. People should be able
> > > to make money (not only "cover costs") from *distributing* free software.
> > 
> > I agree with Santiago, free sofware isn't Free if you can't sell it!
> Let's not get carried away here.  The DFSG says:
>      1.   Free Redistribution
>           The license of a Debian component may not restrict any party from
>           selling or giving away the software as a component of an
>           aggregate software distribution containing programs from several
>           different sources. The license may not require a royalty or other
>           fee for such sale.
> It says nothing about selling the software by itself.  And that's no
> accident, because the DFSG lists the Artistic License as an example
> of a free license.  And the Artistic License contains this clause:
> | 5. You may charge a reasonable copying fee for any distribution of this
> | Package.  You may charge any fee you choose for support of this
> | Package.  You may not charge a fee for this Package itself.  However,
> | you may distribute this Package in aggregate with other (possibly
> | commercial) programs as part of a larger (possibly commercial) software
> | distribution provided that you do not advertise this Package as a
> | product of your own.
> Note the words "reasonable copying fee", and "You may not charge a fee
> for this Package itself".  I consider this language equivalent to that
> in the Elm license.  If you reject Elm then you must also reject the
> Artistic License, for the same reason.

Not so! The Elm license has nothing like the first sentance in section 5
of the Artistic license. This first sentance declares that I can
distribute the licensed software by itself on a floppy and recieve just
compensation for my copying efforts. The Elm license would only allow me
to charge for my cost of the floppy. The Elm license is more restrictive
than the Artistic license.

> Of course, this need not stop you from arguing that Debian's
> definition of "free" should be made stricter.  I just wanted to point
> out that that means changing the Guidelines, which is IMHO not very
> likely to happen.

One of the things to keep clear about the DFSG is that it is only a guide
for authors, to aid them in writing a distribution license. Personally I
don't consider it an adequate definition of Free Software. For me, the
critical factors for Free Software are centered around distribution
restrictions and usage restrictions. Any imposition of a restriction on
how the software can be distributed removes a freedom from that software.
I still say that "if you can't sell it, it isn't Free!". (You are correct
in surmising that I don't consider the Artistic License to be a "Free"
license, because it specifically restricts payment for the package)

While I freely admit to being a "purist" in this issue, I am also
pragmatic enough to accept the framework that the DFSG has created. We
must be willing to accept that this document is a "first try" at the
problem. As such, we should be prepared to "throw it away" and "write
another one" when it becomes clear that the document is deficient. I'm not
ready to throw it away yet, but I think that we are going to continue to
come across subtle problems of interpretation as well as philosophical
ideas that have conflicting results. When these are clear, I feel
confident that correcting the document will not be as difficult as you


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aka   Dale Scheetz                   Phone:   1 (904) 656-9769
      Flexible Software              11000 McCrackin Road
      e-mail:  dwarf@polaris.net     Tallahassee, FL  32308

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