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Re: Recently released QPL


On Sat, Mar 27, 1999 at 02:53:10PM -0500, Jonathan P Tomer wrote:
> cast against rms/esr/whoever. the simple fact of the matter is, by some
> trick of wording, intentional or not, the "copyleft" or "viral" [...]
> sections of the gpl offer as a reasonable
> interpretation [...]
> that no non-gpl works may be used in conjunction with gpl code [...] that
> covers even software that's dfsg-free, although there are those [...]
> who would
> claim that these licenses are not "free enough".

This is not quite accurate. Those licenses are not restrictive enough in a
certain sense.

See, what you consider to be a problem can be interpretated as an advantage.
If somebody writes Free Software, and wants to make absolutely sure that it
stays free, he can use the GPL. This way, all additions will also be GPL'ed,
and this will result in real extension. Otherwise, in your model, one could
write additions to the software in more liberal terms, and those additions
may be non-free, which results in a real mess of different licenses.
Note that someone who writes extensions to GPL code already has the option
to license his seperate work in multiple ways, so this is actually no
argument against the GPL: Simply license your additions under the GPL AND
any other license you like.

> in short, the gpl has some
> serious compatibility issues, not only with non-free software but with 100%
> genuine dfsg-free stuff.

This is well known, but is not limited to GPL. Other licenses are
incompatible, too. What about Artistic and NPL? I haven't checked that, but
still. What about NPL/QPL? Has anybody checked that? Have you checked all
combinations of dfsg free licenses for compatibility?

> this cannot be a good thing from the point of view
> of anyone who thinks the dfsg are a good guideline for freeness, because it
> means that constructive sharing of code between free software -- which is
> the whole point of having free software in the first place -- is on occasion
> made impossible.

Again, you are missing the solution of multiple licenses. It is always the
author of a software who decides how to license his work. People who choose
the GPL choose a very restrictive license, right. But it is still dfsg free.

> i am not certain
> but i think that ash actually predates libreadline; thus the original author
> had no reason to consider whether the license would be an issue for linking
> with the library.

This is a good point, and shows that the libreadline authors are pretty
strong about Free Software. They want to make sure the copyleft will carry
on through all versions of libreadline and all programs which use it. Is
this unreasonable? i don't think so? Is it incompatible with free
licenses like BSD and Artistic? Yes, unfortunately. It is not incompatible
with extremely free licenses, which allow relicensing.

> well, we could get the author to change ash's license... oops, the
> original author has been lost in the mists of time; therefore no amount of
> proposals to have it released under gpl in parallel with its existing
> license will have any effect because they are impracticable. this is really
> a shame, because the restrictiveness of the gpl took a useful library away
> from a piece of free software which would have used it. you can claim that
> this is really ash's fault, or netbsd's fault, for not using the gpl on
> their software. from the mouth of a debian developer, these claims are
> pointless contradictory zealotry. pointless, because they won't solve any
> problems no matter how loudly or frequently they are made; contradictory,
> because by becoming a debian developer one has implicitly acknowledged that
> other licenses can be free; and zealotry, because that's the only word to
> describe advocacy in the face of rational argument, without a like return
> of rational argument.

What's the rational argument here? I must have missed it. [this is not
trolling. I really don't know what you mean]

> so i've spouted for over two pages on why the gnu general public license has
> a problem.

Do you consider it a problem that the GPL is incompatible with other DFSG
free licenses? Personally, I see your point, but I don't agree that this is
a problem.

So what? What do you want to have changed? Do you want the GPL to change? Do
you want the DFSG to change? Somehow I am missing a goal in this discussion.

> a better copyleft license
> than the gpl would not prevent the code from being used by free software.

What is better for you may be worse for me. I would welcome any effort to
write such a license, but I would not use it, simply because I like the
viral effect to be as strong as possible. i would consider to license the
code under multiple licenses, though, if I consider it to be useful in a
particular situation (I would even consider this new license for such an
alternative license).

> 5 as a special exception, any dfsg-free (or some other reasonable definition
>   of free; i'm not all that bigoted, but we have all pretty much agreed that
>   it's a damn fine set o' guidelines ;)

Yes, it's nice, but here is the problem. The DFSG is legally pretty much
unuseful as a definition for Free Software.

In the GPL sense, only GPL software is Free Software. We have to accept
that. In your suggested license, the hardest part would be to determine an
exact legal definition of free.

> program may be compiled or linked
>   with the work, so long as any portions of this work or its derivatives
>   that are used are distributed under terms complying with this license.

> if you've gotten this far, you are very patient, and i thank you. sensible
> comments that expose flaws in my reasoning will make me happy. flames and
> zealotry will result in additions to my killfile, and especially if they are
> thoughtlessly cc'd to the list. so don't do that, because i like my killfile
> short.

What a threat. (sorry :)


`Rhubarb is no Egyptian god.' Debian http://www.debian.org   finger brinkmd@ 
Marcus Brinkmann              GNU    http://www.gnu.org     master.debian.org
Marcus.Brinkmann@ruhr-uni-bochum.de                        for public  PGP Key
http://homepage.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/Marcus.Brinkmann/       PGP Key ID 36E7CD09

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