The intent of patent clauses in DFSG draft (was: Re: Leadership, effects on Debian ...)
Avery Pennarun <email@example.com> writes:
> But there are other parts of the DFSG that DFSG2 attempts to fix (and
> sometimes fails, at the moment):
> 4) Patents. Do be honest, I don't even understand what we're trying to
> accomplish with this part, however, I think the latest DFSG2 draft is
> getting better. The point of this new clause may be that software is not
> free if the author of the software patents it and doesn't freely license
> the patent.
> To rephrase: patents are a way of introducing restrictions beyond the
> ones in the license agreement. A "do anything you want with this"
> license is certainly DFSG-free, but if the software is the RSAREF library
> and you can't license the patent from RSA commercially without a fee,
> then the software isn't _really_ free.
> Since all packages of Debian are supposed to be freely usable/modifiable,
> we would be lying to our users by including such a package in main.
And if the patent clauses were written in such a way, I'd support
them. The unfortunate fact is that they aren't written this way AT
ALL. Basically, the current guidelines declare that if you're on the
Debian sh*tlist (which is called "being a software patent agressor")
then any piece of otherwise free software you release, if any
operation of it is covered by patents, is non-free. No matter how
clearly you license the use of your patent with regard to this piece
of software, it's non-free.
Now while I agree that software patents are at best a questionable
legal concept, I don't want to reject a piece of software because I
dislike its creators. The DFSG has never before dealt with anything
as odd as the "controller" of a piece of software; I'd prefer it stay