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Re: Mass bug filing: Cryptographic protection against modification

On Wed, May 05, 2004 at 01:28:26PM -0600, Joel Baker wrote:
> The standing opinion there for some time (certainly every time I've seen
> this issue raised, which has been some number) is that a license text which
> is required solely to allow us to distributed the software under said
> license is Free by the DFSG, in that it is a pre-requisite to being able to
> establish and protect the other freedoms required by the DFSG in a world
> with legal systems that require such.

I don't think it's so much that unmodifiable license texts are considered
free, but that they're a necessary bit of non-freeness.

As I've suggested, I don't think that this is necessarily completely true,
considering the concepts of "license terms" and "license texts" separately.
We must allow the implicit restriction "you must not misrepresent the terms
under which this work is licensed", which means that you can't take the GPL,
modify it, and then claim that the Linux kernel is under your modified GPL.

The license of the license is irrelevant--if the GPL was freely modifiable,
you would still have to distribute the unmodified text, in order to accurately
represent the licensing terms of the software.

So, I think Debian could require that license texts be modifiable.  I don't
think that would be a good thing; I do think an exception for license texts
is appropriate, for lots of reasons.  I'm just not sure that "we *have* to do
it that way, due to the nature of the legal system" is correct.

(I'm not claiming that such an exception needs to be laid out in the SC; I
don't have an opinion on that.)

Glenn Maynard

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