[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Ian's DFSG2 would harm Debian and Free Software

On 3 Dec 1998 john@dhh.gt.org wrote:

> Dale Scheetz writes:
> > With a proper license forking is no problem, and the freedom that is
> > maintained is the users freedom to choose the original work over the
> > forked version. Properly used "immutable source" provides additional
> > freedoms not provided in other licenses.
> I think that doubling the amount of source that must be distributed
> could qualify as a problem.

And some think that supplying the source is an unreasonable inconvenience.
Nothing here said you had to distribute two complete source trees. The
patch method reduces the overload of such a requirement, but isn't
necessarily implied by the original requirement. If you can find another
technical solution it would be allowed as well, given a proper
understanding by the license.

> > The license need not prevent re-use simply because it requires original
> > source. If I say "You can do anything with this source code as long as
> > you provide the unchanged original with all derived work." there is no
> > curtailment of software freedom.
> I don't think I'd be willing to provide 100,000 lines of 'original souce'
> in order to use 100 lines from it in my 1000 line program.
Then don't! There is no copyright on ideas. Take the ideas you like from
the code you read, and write your own 100 lines of code.

In practice the usual results are that the original is used in total, with
additional improvements or interface code added to get the desired

> > I see it as a very bad idea to require mutable source. My reasons stem
> > from the fact that the copyright is the legal authority for the license,
> > and a license that allows the original work to be modified weakens the
> > power of the copyright (as it no longer applies to the modified work).
> It continues to apply to the modified work as long as the modified work
> includes any of the original.
> > As I have said repeatedly, requiring the preservation of the original
> > unmodified source does not need to restrict the freedom of use of that
> > software...
> > ...
> > ...and since it protects the original copyright it actually guarantees
> > the continued freedom of that source.
> How does the GPL endanger the original copyright or the continued freedom
> of that source?

It isn't clear to me that it does. I am still looking for some expert
copyright lawyer to give me some guidance on these issues, but that hasn't
been easy. I made a comment to an environmental lawyer I know, and his
first response was,"Your can't copyright software, you must patent it.".
I, of course, immediately threw up in his lap ;-)

While the Free Software Community seems to pretty much agree on what the
GPL does and doesn't do, we continue to opperate as though those
understandings are based on sound legal principles (talk about an
oxymoron) while none of the principles involved have yet been tested in
court. My first marriage worked on those same principles of understanding
until the courts got involved. Then all kinds of "implicit understandings"
that neither my wife nor I had any knowledge of came into play, and we
both had to fight tooth and nail to get the kind of divorce we were
looking for (no fault amicable split), over the objections of the lawyer
who wanted her to "take me" for everything I had. (Little did he realize
that I didn't have anything ;-)

> I do not favor evicting "patch clause" licenses from the DFSG, but that
> doesn't mean I like them.

Calling it the patch clause makes it seem to be related to the QPL clause
that has caused everyone such a problem. I much prefer to view this as the
"immutable source" clause, which allows patches and modified binaries, but
doesn't "require" them.

I am pleased to know that you also will vote to keep this, in my mind,
very necessary condition, in the DFSG. I personally see great value in the
clause although "like" is not the term I would use, "need" is more my
point of view.


_-_-_-_-_-   Author of "The Debian Linux User's Guide"  _-_-_-_-_-_-

aka   Dale Scheetz                   Phone:   1 (850) 656-9769
      Flexible Software              11000 McCrackin Road
      e-mail:  dwarf@polaris.net     Tallahassee, FL  32308

_-_-_-_-_-_- If you don't see what you want, just ask _-_-_-_-_-_-_-

Reply to: