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

On Thu, 3 Dec 1998, Ian Jackson wrote:

> Dale Scheetz writes ("Re: Ian's DFSG2 would harm Debian and Free Software"):
> ...
> > My position stems from the fact that the copyright is the author's legal
> > authority to license the copyright material. That authority extends over,
> > and only over the material, as written by the author.
> The last time you said this I followed up - see below.  Did you read
> that posting of mine ?  Do you still claim I'm wrong ?  If so I'll
> find my references.

Yes, I did. The problem for me is I haven't been able to obtain reasonable
legal advice on these matters. Talking with two different lawyers has
provided me with two very different points of view. I haven't yet found a
lawyer who specializes in copyright law, and I'm still looking, so the
short answer is "Yes, I'd really like to see your references".

> > We do not consider software as non-free when the copyright demands an
> > unchanged copy accompany any and every copy of the copyright software.
> Huh?  I think you missed a word.
I don't see with one it is ;-)

I was simply saying that a license that requires unmodified source is not,
necessarily, un-free. It depends on the other terms of the license as

> ...
> > Ian is concerned because the original author can then incorporate those
> > changes into a new version, released under a completely closed license,
> > and effectively "steal" the work of the community for their own gain.
> No, I'm not concerned about that.  The DFSG2 allows that (and the
> DFSG1 may or may not).
As I understand the situation, I can release code under the GPL that I may
later release under a more strict license. The only thing I can't do is
remove the GPL from the original release code. As the author, no license
can take that right away from me, and everyone seems to agree that this
doesn't effect the "freeness" of the original released software.

> If we want to forbid that we need to think a bit more, but I don't
> think we do for the reasons you quote.


> ...
> > While the need for patches for modification causes some logistical
> > problems, we should never seek to simplify those logistics at the expense
> > of freedom.
> This is a red herring.
I'm sorry, are you saying that logistical issues should govern how we
decide about software freeness? If you are, then I completely disagree.


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

aka   Dale Scheetz                   Phone:   1 (850) 656-9769
      Flexible Software              11000 McCrackin Road
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