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Re: Draft new DFSG

On Mon, Nov 23, 1998 at 04:21:51PM -0500, Dale Scheetz wrote:
> On Mon, 23 Nov 1998, Ian Jackson wrote:
> > 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
> > clause.
> I have heard this from you before, and I don't think you understand just
> what is at stake here. Let me see if I can explain.

[explanation snipped --- I really just seek an entry point for my NSHO :)]

> We should not declare a license non-free which only requires that the
> original source be propogated unchanged. I would argue that this provides
> more freedom to the "end user" since it should then be a simple matter for
> the "current owner" of the sofware to refert to the original author's
> work.

What I dislike about "patch only" distribution is twofold:

* Companies like to enforce different copyrights on patches than on the
  original work (see NPL, see QPL, the latter is even worse, because you
  give up almost all rights on your patches. This is bad, because the
  patches are not any longer protected like GPL software or the Qt source if
  that matters.).

* In the long run, you end up with a long upstream source and even more
  patches. This is at least uncomfortable (I speak of cases in which the
  source is not maintained by the original copyright holder anymor).

If you can suggest a wording that solves at least the first problem, this
would be great.

> Demanding mutable source does nothing to advance the cause of Free
> Software, has nothing to do with distribution freedoms, and may ultimately
> lead to the defeat of DFSG compliant licenses.

See above. I think the reverse can be true (naturally, this depends on the
exact wording). For the QPL, the patch copyright subverts the copyleft.
> I don't think this strengthens the free software license. Freedom isn't
> about "easy use" but about unrestricted use without compromizing the
> author's work.

Again, I see serious problems with companies finding a way how they can
enforce very weak copyrights on patches although the original software is
strong protected by copyleft. Compromizing the authors (of the patches) work
is exactly what I see happening there.
> The current rewrite states a number of new concepts while dropping some of
> the old ones. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water ;-)

It's sad how it becomes more and more difficult to define what we consider
as free. However, I support a strong stance for free software. If this means
that we have to cut out some border-licenses, I am all for it. Everything
that is simple helps.

Free Software has become very strong. It is not the time to move the border
line. (someone else said this in another thread a while ago).

Troll tech for example (I only pick this because of actuality, I could
choose any other example like Netscape etc) is not the first company trying
to be clever in the copyright. It will not be the last. If we lend them a
finger, they will take the whole hand.

Just my little $0.02 rant :)


"Rhubarb is no Egyptian god."        Debian GNU/Linux        finger brinkmd@ 
Marcus Brinkmann                   http://www.debian.org    master.debian.org
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