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Re: How do we interpret the Stalin license?

On 24-Jan-1998, Rob Browning <rlb@cs.utexas.edu> wrote:
> I'm thinking of packaging Stalin for Debian, but it's got an unusual
> license.


> Here's the license:
>           CONDITIONS
>   The current release of Stalin is provided for free on an as-is basis
>   with no warrantee.  You are free to use, copy, and distribute this
>   software provided that:
>    1. You report *ALL* bugs to Bug-Stalin@AI.MIT.EDU whether or not you
>       need them fixed.  Include the version number (0.7) in the message.
>    2. You report *ALL* bugs that you fixed to Bug-Stalin@AI.MIT.EDU.
>       Include the version number (0.7) in the message.
>    3. You inform me that you obtained a copy of Stalin by sending a message
>       to Info-Stalin-Request@AI.MIT.EDU to be put on the
>       Info-Stalin@AI.MIT.EDU mailing list.

This license is a bit ridiculous. There's no definition of "bug".
You have to report *ALL* bugs (whether or not you even found the
bugs!). Nobody can prove they've found all the bugs, so the licensees
must be nervous.

I can see what the author wants, but to make these conditions a part of
the license is just stupid. Anyone who uses it who doesn't have a net
connection is going to have trouble sending that email. Anyone who pays
exhorbitant download costs is not going to want to be put on the mailing

(I always try to judge the freeness of "extra conditions" using a
"third world" scenario. If we distributed computers and Debian CDs in
a remote "3rd world" region, would they be reasonably able to use the

There's also no modificiation mentioned - so you can't do it. This alone
would make it non-free. Since the authors ask you to send in bug fixes,
but don't allow you to modify the software, I think they were confused
when they wrote the license.

> I'm particularly concerned about the "current release" bit, and the
> insistence on the email.  While we certainly will report all the bugs
> upstream, I'm not sure what to make of (3).
> Here's the official blurb for those who care...
> [ blurb deleted ]

Sounds somewhat similar to Mercury (http://www.cs.mu.oz.au/mercury) in a
few ways.

       Tyson Dowd           # 
                            #  Surreal humour isn't eveyone's cup of
     trd@cs.mu.oz.au        #  fur.
http://www.cs.mu.oz.au/~trd #

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