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Re: [prePROPOSAL] DFSG (draft 7)

On Fri, Feb 19, 1999 at 06:57:05PM -0500, Dale Scheetz wrote:
> >      The Debian Free Software Guidelines define what it means for software
> >      to be free as far as the Debian project is concerned. Software that
> >      follows these guidelines is termed "DFSG-free".
> So what do we call software that follows the original DFSG?

If it meets these guidelines as well, we'd call it "DFSG-free". If it
doesn't, we call it "non-free".

Consider the Postfix license. The one that's free except that it has the
"you agree to terminate this license and destroy all copies" and so on.

You're allowed to freely redistribute it. Source code's available, you
can make derived works, it doesn't have a patch clause, doesn't discriminate,
you can redistribute with the same license, it doesn't contaminate other

So it meets the DFSG.

So it's DFSG-free, right?

Why is it in non-free, then?

The point of rewriting the DFSG is to make it more clear exactly what we
mean by free software -- that's the point of the DFSG in the first place.
If the DFSG doesn't quite match our ideas of free at the moment, then
we should change it, shouldn't we?

And if some of those programs that used to satisfy the DFSG don't
satisfy the new one, that's because we didn't consider them free in the
first place.  So why call them anything but non-free?

> > 2.1. Use
> > --------
> >      Anyone must be able to use the software in any way without paying a
> >      fee or royalty or performing any special actions.
> "performing any special actions" is pretty ambiguous. Is compilation or
> invocation considered "special actions"?

Does changing this to "Anyone must be allowed to use the
software..." satisfy your objection?

Running "make install" *is* a special action -- you kind of have to do
it, but if it has an "rm -rf /" as one of its commands you shouldn't be
required to.

> > 2.2. Source Code
> > ----------------
> >      Source code must be freely available if it exists. Source code refers
> >      to the form used to make changes to the software.
> Sorce code refers to the actual material that is covered by the copyright.

Huh? /bin/ls is source code? Or it's not covered by copyright?

The binaries in distributed-net-pproxy aren't covered by copyright, or are
source code?

> > 2.4. Derivation
> > ---------------
> >      Anyone must be able to use parts of the software in their own work.
> So the GPL is no longer considered free software by these guidelines.
> I can not include parts of a GPL licensed source into my non-GPL work.

Yes, it is free by these guidelines. But only because there's a
restriction that allows a license to restrict such things.

The only completely free license is saying "Do what you will with it",
anything else restricts your freedoms. The GPL does this, in a way which
a lot of people, myself included, find beneficial.

But it still restricts the freedom to reuse code (which we find important,
yes?) in a way that actually does annoy people.

> > 2.5. Distribution
> > -----------------
> In fact, the source availability clause requires that you distribute the
> source (the true copyright material) whenever you distribute a derived
> binary from that source.

Which is another restriction the GPL places on you, but which also
restricts your freedoms.

> > 2.6. Termination of License
> > ---------------------------
> >      The license must remain valid until the licensee terminates it or
> >      violates the terms of the license.
> The licensee (the copyright holder who assignes the license to the
> software) is incapable of violating his on license terms. Termination of
> the license can only be granted by the copyright holder.

From dict:
]   Licensee \Li`cen*see"\ (l[imac]`sen*s[=e]"), n. (Law)
]      The person to whom a license is given.

Darren, this should probably be changed to "license holder".

> > 3.1. Notices of Authorship
> > --------------------------
> Other reasonable requirements are not covered here, such as unmodified
> source, which the current DFSG allows.

Which are also covered below.

> >      The license may not impose restrictions on third-party software that
> >      merely resides on the same system or distribution as the licensed
> >      software.
> This has ramifications that aren't clear.

In ways that...

]      The license must not place restrictions on other software that is
]      distributed along with the licensed software.


> > 3.4. Restrictions on charges (deprecated)
> > -----------------------------------------
> I realise that this refers to, among other things, the Artistic license.
> While I do not particularly like this license, I do consider it to be
> free.

That's what's intended be the above -- you can use this clause and still
call your software "free", but we won't like it as much as if you didn't.

Perhaps "discouraged" would be a better word though. 

> > 3.5. Availability of source code
> > --------------------------------
> >      The license may require that distributors make a reasonable effort to
> >      provide source code of versions of the software they distribute.
> But not make it a condition of distribution? This defeats the whole
> purpose of source code availability.

Huh? ``If you distribute the software by ftp, you must distribute the source
on the same ftp site, or point them to somewhere else where they can get it'',
is the license making a requirement of distributors to make an effort to
provide source code of versions of the software they distribute.

It's also a condition of distribution.

I don't see what you're objecting to?

> > 3.6.4. Original source (deprecated)
> > -----------------------------------
> >      Distribution of modified software may be required to be accompanied by
> >      an offer to distribute the original source code.
> Not only is this deprecated, which I find objectionable, but it also
> doesn't have any teeth in it to start with.

`by an offer to distribute' probably shouldn't be in there. Does that add
the teeth you want?

> Requirement of pristine source distribution restricts none of the freedoms
> that we are promoting and provides assured access to the original work.

It makes it effectively impossible to use fragments of code in other
programs -- you have to distribute, say, the entire Xemacs source code
so you can use their five line "getCursorPosn()" function, or some such.

It also make it difficult to fork software -- if the original creator dies,
and he didn't leave a "if I die, this is BSD'ed" like troll tech has, then
you have to distribute the last version the creator wrote with every new
version that gets created.

I think these are both fairly painful, albeit less so than the patch
> > 3.6.5. Patch clause (deprecated)
> > --------------------------------
> >      Source level modifications may be required to be distributed as the
> >      original source with a list of differences.

This should possibly be "as a list of differences against the original
source", so you don't have to distribute qt.tgz when you send your patch
to TrollTech, eg.

> I know what you are trying to avoid here, but it seems that you avoid a
> bunch of other things as well, by being too specific here.
> Can I require original source code be available and not require that you
> deliver your mods via diff/patch?

Under the previous clause you could, yes.

Under this clause you can use a `diff-like' program to generate a list of

> If I allow a CVS repository to act as the distribution point for the
> modified source, so long as the original source tree can be extracted from
> the archives, is this the patch clause in action, or some other clause in
> this definition?

This is the "orginal source" clause in action.

> > 5.1. Deprecated
> > ---------------
> >      By deprecated, we mean this is allowed but discourage and disliked.
> >      These items may be removed in future versions. Also, software without
> >      deprecated clauses is recommended over software that has licenses with
> >      such clauses.
> So there are levels of freeness described herein who's relative merits an
> value are deprecated as well? This is a guideline for discrimination that
> has no value to me, or to the freedoms that I cherish in free software.

Again, "discouraged" might be a better word, and you are, of course, free
to ignore it, and just differentiate on "free" vs "non-free".

But I think there is a difference between free software that makes use of
the advertising clause or the patch cluase and software that doesn't. Not
enough of one to make it non-free, but enough to discourage it some what.
> > 5.2. Non-binding Requests
> > -------------------------
> >      The license may make any number of non-binding requests. These should
> >      be clearly separated from the binding section of the license.
> Licenses are legal descriptions of what you may, and may not, do with the
> licensed material. There are no such things as "non-binding requests" with
> requard to a license, you either regulate the behaviour or you don't.

Maybe there shouldn't be, but there is. Consider:

``Vim is Charityware.  You can use and copy it as much as you like,
but you are encouraged to make a donation to orphans in Uganda.'',
for example.

> > 5.3. Weaker Restrictions
> > ------------------------
> >      The license have less restrictive versions of the restrictions listed
> >      here.
> This isn't a grammatical sentance. What does this statement say?

``The license may make use of less restrictive versions of the Restrictions
lists above''.

> > 5.4. Example Licenses
> > ---------------------
> >      As examples, we consider the following licenses DFSG-free: 
> >         * the MIT/X Consortium License
> >         * the Artistic License
> >         * the GNU General Public License v2 (GPL)
> >         * the GNU Library General Public License v2 (LGPL)
> >         * the BSD License
> >         * the Mozilla Public License v1.0 (MPL)
> >         * the Q Public License v0.92 (QPL)
> The terms that I saw above would remove about half of the licenses from
> this list, including several that we consider very free.

It would remove none of them, although it would discourage many of them.


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. PGP encrypted mail preferred.

``Like the ski resort of girls looking for husbands and husbands looking
  for girls, the situation is not as symmetrical as it might seem.''

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