Draft new DFSG
As I've said before, most recently in a posting to -private, and
before that in various fora, I think the DFSG has some serious
problems due to loose wording. I also strongly dislike the patch
I have therefore been planning to rewrite them. When the constitution
vote is finished (and the discussion here is pretty much finished) I
shall make this into a formal resolution. In the meantime, here is a
draft. Please read it and think about its implications.
Please also check it against the licences of your existing packages.
In particular, if an existing package of yours has a restriction that
is not troublesome but isn't specifically exempted below it may well
become not DFSG-free unless the exemption is added. So, please check
to see if there are any such restrictions, and describe them here, so
that we can add the right exemptions.
$Id: dfsg2.text,v 1.2 1998/11/23 14:58:14 ian Exp $
Debian Free Software Guidelines
This document describes what the Debian Project considers free
software. Only free software is part of Debian, as described in
Debian's Social Contract. The term `DFSG-free' will be used to mean
`free software according to the Debian Free Software Guidelines'.
DFSG-free works are either in the public domain, or come with a
copyright licence, and with any necessary patent licences.
(a) For a work to be DFSG-free, anyone must be permitted to use it.
(b) The source code must be available.
(c) Anyone must be permitted to distribute it in its original form and
in modified forms, both as source code and as executables, on its own
or together with other works.
(d) Anyone must be permitted to reverse-engineer it.
(e) These activities must be permitted regardless of from whom the
work was obtained, and must be permitted without having to refer to
or notify anyone else.
(f) There must be no restrictions on these activities other than kinds
of restrictions explicitly allowed by these guidelines; any other
restriction means that the work is not DFSG-free.
(g) The licence(s) must not allow the copyright or patent holder(s) to
terminate the licence(s).
(a) Requirement to distribute source code
The licence may require source code for the work to be distributed
whenever the executable is distributed, provided that:
i. When distribution is made by public anonymous download, the
licence restriction is satisfied if the source code is made available
on the same site as the executable, at all times when the executable
ii. The licence allows the distributor of executables to offer to
distribute the source code instead of actually distributing it. The
(1) may require the offer to be in writing
(2) may specify some minimum length of validity of the offer (not
more than 3 years)
(3) may require the offer to be open to all third parties.
(b) Requirement for onward distribution to use particular licence
The licence may make requirements about the kinds of licence (or other
contract or similar document) under which people distribute the
work (or its modified versions), so long as it is still possible to
distribute the work under according to these guidelines.
(c) Requirements for placing notices
The licence may require notices to be placed in the source code,
documentation, and/or to cause the work to display notices at
appropriate points during its execution (in the case of a work which
can be executed) or content (in the case of a work which can be
displayed and/or printed).
It must be possible to write such notices so that they are truthful,
not offensive, and not unreasonably long for the context in which they
are required, without the implied requirement to do so imposing any
restrictions which are not compatible with these guidelines.
(d) Requirements made to apply to whole work
The licence may make its requirements (falling under the other
exceptions) apply to the whole work when the original work is
combined with a second work to make a new whole work and the
resulting whole work (or part of it) is distributed.
(The licence may not make any requirements about other works or data
that are distributed as separate works but is merely distributed on
the same disk, tape, network site, or whatever.)
(e) Restrictions on misrepresentation
The licence may restrict the use (without permission) of the names of
the authors and copyright holders to endorse or promote products
derived from the work.
The licence may also restrict other kinds of misrepresentation.
(f) Limitation of liability
It may be a condition of the licence that the authors and copyright
holders are not held legally responsible for errors and omissions in
the work (in so far as permitted by applicable law).
(g) Non-binding requests
The licence or other documentation may make other requests of users
and redistributors, provided that these requests are not legally
binding, and that there is no suggestion that failing to honour the
request is unethical or immoral.
(h) Changed name or version number for modified version
The licence may require modified versions to be distributed under a
different name or with a different version number, provided that this
doesn't interfere with using the modified version as a replacement for
(i) Advertising restriction (deprecated)
The licence may require advertising materials which mention features
or use of the work to contain a short notice specified by the
This exception is only available if the restriction was imposed no
later than the 1st of January 1999, and if no modified version of the
work has been published since then by anyone who could remove the
This exception is likely to be removed in a future version of these
4. Restrictions due to law
(a) If in a particular jurisdiction the distribution, modification or
use of a work is restricted by law, then the work is not
DFSG-free in that jurisdiction.
(b) It is still DFSG-free in other jurisdictions, provided that those
who control (directly or indirectly) the work and the conditions under
which it is distributed, do not have the power to lift the
restrictions other than by changing the nature of the work, and
express a desire that the legal restrictions be lifted.
(c) In the case of restrictions due to patents, a work can in any case
not be DFSG-free if those who control the work and the conditions
under which it is distributed are software patent aggressors.
In these guidelines:
(a) Source code has the meaning given for it in the GNU General Public
Licence, version 2.
(b) Executables means a derived version of the work which is not the
(c) A software patent aggressor is a person or organisation who
enforces patents against software patent nonaggressor(s), with respect
to infringement by software, or profits from such enforcement.
Ian Jackson, at home. Local/personal: email@example.com