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Re: Release-critical Bugreport for January 7, 2000

Mike Markley <mike@markley.org> wrote
> If I'm reading this snippet correctly, all it's saying is that the images
> and other data can't be distributed w/o the GPL'd source code. I'm not
> entirely sure on whether or not this fits w/the DFSG... 
> On Mon, Jan 10, 2000 at 10:17:23PM +0100, Richard Braakman wrote:
> > ...
> > No, it's not free:
> > 
> >   The source code to Maelstrom 3.0 and higher has been released under
> >   the GNU General Public License which can be found in COPYING.GPL.
> >   
> >   The artwork and sounds used by Maelstrom are copyright Ambrosia Software
> >   (http://www.ambrosiasw.com) and may not be redistributed separately from
> >   the Maelstrom public GPL release.

I find that a very curious and not workable description. Firstly, it doesn't
actually give any licence at all to redistribute the artwork and sounds, which
are copyrighted. Maybe if the part "and may not be redistributed separately
from" were replaced by "but they may be freely redistributed under the
condition that this is in conjunction with", it would make a bit more sense.

Even then there is a contradiction. The licence for the artwork and sounds,
even if not exactly specified, is clearly not GPL. The GPL explicitly states
that GPL-ed code may not be incorporated into a work unless the whole is
distributed under the conditions of the GPL. Therefore to distribute the two
together requires a balancing act to tie them close enough together to
consider them "not separate" for the artwork and sounds licence, but loose
enough that they do not form a work for the purposes of GPL.

I would suggest that the artwork and sounds cannot be distributed at all as
the text currently reads, and Ambrosia Software should be asked to add a
licence with clear conditions, and advised that these conditions should not
contradict those of the GPL. Personally I can see no sensible reason why one
would want to require inclusion of the Maelstrom GPL release with distribution
of the artwork and sounds, since users are free to trash the former after
reception anyway. Let Ambrosia specify whatever licence they want, and based
on that one can decide do distribute artwork and sounds in main, non-free, or
not at all, but this kind of making one part dependent in complicated ways on
other parts is creating logical puzzles that help nobody.

Marc van Leeuwen
Universite de Poitiers

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