I have written the author of postilion, Nic Bernstein, and in his reply he
shared with me the reasons that the new copyright was added to the graphics
files included with postilion.
The artist of said graphics is concerned that they might be used in "just any
program". But, Nic is willing to look into changing the wording of the
copyright if an agreement can be reached that makes everyone happy.
Can someone who has some experience with this kind of discussion help me in
this? I need some help in explaining exactly why (with references) debian
might or might not have a problem with the new copyright applied to the
I am including the reply as to make all aware of the current state of
> 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 <email@example.com>.
> 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: firstname.lastname@example.org on any reply to this
> > request.
> Nic Bernstein email@example.com
> 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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