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Re: NcFTP is free again?

On Sep 30, Chris Cheney wrote:
> I just looked at NcFTP 3.0Beta20 and it appears to have changed its
> license to free (no license file) and the libncftp requirement of
> non-use by other programs seems to have been dropped also.  Maybe
> someone more knowledgeable than me can look at this and see if it
> can be packaged again.  Thanks, Chris

(Moved to debian-legal; please direct followups there; CC'd to the
author so maybe he can shed some light on what's going on here.)

I just downloaded the source code and can't find an actual license
anywhere.  The changelog entry reads:

+ Change of licensing.  Specifically, GPL was shown the door.  NcFTP
is, has always been, and will continue to be free software.

which isn't a license (at best a statement of principles).
Furthermore, READLINE-README reads in part:

Apparently this special free version of LibNcFTP still cannot co-exist
with GPL'd stuff.

which indicates that this "special free version" is probably not
DFSG-compliant.  But again, I can't see a license anywhere, so maybe
it is (advertising clause maybe?).

The man page says:

       Thanks to Red Hat Software for honoring my licensing agreement,
       but more importantly, thanks for providing a solid and
       affordable development platform.

which seems to indicate that there is a license somewhere on the
planet, but it's still not with the source.  Or on the website.

The only actual license (grep -i licen) I can find is in
vis/syshdrs.h, but it's a GPL license.  And he claims in the changelog
that NcFTP is not GPLed.  Hence I'm stumped.

Since my suspicion is that libncftp (even in its "special free
version") is still only licensed for use with ncftp, it would seem to
fail the DFSG [and Open Source Definition] on several points.  Off the
bat, it would fail point 3.  Depending on the actual licensing terms
for libncftp, I suspect it fails points 5 and/or 6 too (no commercial
use of derived works?).  See the DFSG at
http://www.debian.org/social_contract#guidelines (and note that these
guidelines are substantively identical to the OSD).

Having said that, the removal of linkage to Readline probably
qualifies it for the non-free section (since it is no longer in
violation of Readline's license).

Of course, all of this is speculative because (yes, I'm harping on
this point) there is no license that I can see.  So we can't do squat
with NcFTP 3 until Mike includes a license.

Incidentally, ncftp 2 core dumps after using ncftp 3 (the prefs files
apparently confuse it); maybe we should fix that...

|        Chris Lawrence        |             The Linux/m68k FAQ             |
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