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Re: Postilion Copyright Troubles

On  6 Feb, Dale James Thompson wrote:
> A problem exists with me making a debian package for postilion. The new 
> copyright for the graphics files is not compatible with the Debian Free 
> Software Guidelines. This means that the postilion package will need to be 
> taken out of the Main Debian Distribution and placed in a non-free 
> distribution that is not shipped on the CDROM's. The only way I will be able 
> to fix this is if the copyright for the graphics files is changed to be less 
> restrictive.

For completeness, this is the text in question (from COPYRIGHT.images
in the Postilion-0.9.0 distribution)
   All graphics, image and icon files icluded with Postilion are copyright
   1998, 1999 by Marco van Hylckama Vlieg <fatal@pc23-c801.uibk.ac.at>.

   These graphics may be freely distributed and modified but ONLY
   _WITH_ this program (Postilion).

This particular copyright notice was added late in the development
phase for this release of Postilion, at the request of the graphics
designer, and with only brief consideration as to wording.  I will
forward your concerns to Marco, and see if we can come to some agreement
which makes everyone happy.

I am curious just what the nature of the complaint is.  I am not
familiar with each and every "open source" guideline, and I do not
intend to become expert in these.

Marco was concerned that the images which he created for Postilion not
be torn from the package to be used in just any program.  He felt that
he had worked hard to create a group of icons which gave Postilion its
own feel, and that he would be upset to see these images combined with
other images, or used in another program, without his consent.  He has
given his consent for these images to be used in at least one other
program, after I encouraged their use.

> I want to also let you know that at least one debian developer who is using 
> postilion intends to stop doing so until the program once again becomes 
> completely free. I am also upset because I have been happily using postilion 
> for more than a year now and consider it the only truly good free mail reader. 
> But now the program is not free.

I am sorry to lose any users, but if your feelings are that strong
about this, I can understand.  As I have said above, let us see if we
can come up with some wording which can make everyone happy.  Maybe
some discussion between all involved can lead us to a better
> I also want to let you know that there is some doubt as to if the new graphics 
> copyright and the GPL are compatible. It may not be possible to include the 
> graphics files in a GPL'd package such as postilion. Much the same as the 
> KDE/QT troubles until the QT copyright was changed.

I am not clear on this.  I would assume that you are referring to
section 2.0:
   2. You may modify your copy or copies of the Program or any portion
   of it, thus forming a work based on the Program, and copy and
   distribute such modifications or work under the terms of Section 1
   above, provided that you also meet all of these conditions:

There would appear to be a contradiction between section 2.0, and the
above COPYRIGHT.images statement, although I am not sure.  I have never
really understood just how graphics files, which are free standing
components, are covered by the GPL.  Further down in section 2.0, we
find this:
   These requirements apply to the modified work as a whole.  If
   identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the Program,
   and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in
   themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not apply to those
   sections when you distribute them as separate works.  But when you
   distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is a work based
   on the Program, the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of
   this License, whose permissions for other licensees extend to the
   entire whole, and thus to each and every part regardless of who wrote it.

This would seem to imply that there may be different copyright
statements for different components of a program.  Since the graphics
files are separate and free standing components, they would seem to
qualify.  For example, there is already a separate copyright statement
for the HTML library included with Postilion.  But, I am no lawyer, and
don't wish to be.  I am open to persuasion.

Best regards,
> We (debian) would ask that you consider changing the new copyright for the 
> graphics files.
> I would offer my assistance in whatever way I can. May I help you with a new 
> set of graphics files that are free? May I ask the graphics author to change 
> his copyright to something less restrictive.
> I would also ask if you cc: debian-mail@lists.debian.org on any reply to this 
> request.
Nic Bernstein                                  nic@postilion.org
PGP public key 			    http://postilion.org/nic/key
All opinions expressed are mine, if you want them it'll cost you.

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