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Re: NcFTP is free again?



On Fri, Oct 01, 1999 at 01:41:18AM -0500, Chris Lawrence 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.)

...and pulled off -devel because it shouldn't be there...

> 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.

I also don't see a license.

For the record, ncftp has NOT always been free software.  It was
proprietary software with included source.  Doesn't matter if the source
is there if you're not allowed to use it.

Without a license that meets the DFSG, ncftp can't stay in main.  It
doesn't have to be the GPL if the author has issues with the GPL.  If the
issues are with a particular person or group I'd suggest not discounting
the GPL on their account---even if the issues are had with RMS.  (it's no
secret I have MANY issues with RMS...)


The primary issue which had most people screaming was readline which is
GPL.  If ncftp's license isn't compatible with that, it can't use it.  Of
course the best way to solve that is to make ncftp GPL.  But it's not the
only option if the author would prefer something else, such as a BSD,
XFree, or other similar license.


> 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?).

A lack of any license is by legal default "All Rights Reserved", which
means we cannot package it, even in non-free.


> 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).

It'd also fail point 5.


> 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).

Not until we have a license.  Any license that allows distribution would
put it in non-free, but we don't have that now.


> 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...

Personally, considering the license mess and the likelyhood that it's not
going to get cleaned up anytime soon (thank you Red Hat for once again
completely ignoring Copyright law because you think you won't get sued!) I
think I'd rather work on fixing lftp.  It'd be cool to see the ncftp thing
resolved in a good way sure, but it's about as likely as fixing pine's
license to allow distribution of modified binaries--considering there's a
great alternative (mutt) I've got no intention of waiting on something
that's not likely to happen.

It's certainly beneficial to Linux users everywhere to know that Red Hat
is thinking of their needs first---even at the expense of the legal
foundation of the GPL which was designed to prevent people like Microsoft
from doing to us what they did to Java and are doing to perl...

-- 
Joseph Carter <knghtbrd@debian.org>             Debian GNU/Linux developer
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