Re: Licensing Problems with Debian Packages (Was Re: Copyright lawyers analysis of Andreas Pour's Interpretation)
Raul Miller wrote:
> On Wed, Feb 16, 2000 at 11:53:06AM -0500, Andreas Pour wrote:
> > OK, so you admit that the advertising clause conflicts with the
> > GPL. Well, that's very interesting, b/c the Apache license (see
> > http://www.apache.org/LICENSE.txt, clause 3) includes this provision,
> > as well as several others (clauses 4 and 5) that are inconsistent with
> > the GPL. Now, Apache links with libc, and under your reading of the
> > GPL, Debian must distribute libc under the GPL rather than the LGPL
> > (as (1) you read Sections 3(a) and 2(b) of the GPL to require the
> > "entire Program" to be licensed under the GPL, (2) you link libc with
> > actually GPL'd programs, such s 'grep', and (3) you provide only one
> > acopy of libc which can be either LGPL or GPL, but not both). Hence
> > Apache links to a GPL'd work. Nevertheless, Debian distributes Apache
> > (see http://www.debian.org/Packages/stable/web/).
> Since the associateion between apache and grep is mere aggregation,
> I don't see how this is relevant.
It is relevant b/c, under your reading, to link libc with 'grep', you have
to license libc under the GPL. So that means the libc distributed with
Debian is a GPL libc, not an LGPL libc (ignoring for the moment that Debian
does not in fact do the conversion). Since libc is under the GPL, you
cannot link it to something like Apache, which is not licensed under the
GPL and imposed additional requirements which the GPL does not impose.
> > Incidentally, Perl
> > (http://www.debian.org/Packages/stable/interpreters/) has the same
> > problem as Apache. Have a look at clause 9 of the Artistic License
> > (http://www.perl.com/language/misc/Artistic.html).
> Perl can already be distributed under the GPL.
Where do you get this information from? Looking at
http://www.perl.com/pub/language/info/software.html#srclic, I see it only
being licensed as Artistic.
> > What's even more interesting is that FSF
> > distributes BSD-licensed code as part of libc. See
> > http://www.gnu.org/manual/glibc-2.0.6/html_node/libc_524.html. The
> > notable part about that is, this code retains the advertising clause.
> > It also contains DEC-licensed code, which not only includes an
> > advertising clause, but, also specifies that its license applies to
> > all redistributions (and hence the code cannot be distributed under
> > GPL or LGPL).
> Well, I've filed a bug report against Debian's libc6 on this issue.
> I suspect that the issue has been ignored because the advertising clause
> is considered unenforceable.
So you know that to be true in each jurisdiction where Debian is
distributed? and under what theory is it considered unenforceable?
And, incidentally, there are *two* advertising clauses. One says you have
to acknowledge the copyright holder; I suppose this is the one you think
"unenforceable". But there is also the other one which says you cannot use
the copyright holder's name to promote the software.
In any event, it may be that the licensor cannot get damages if you breach
the no-advertisement clause, but does that necessarily mean that the person
who breached that clause is entitled to distribute the software? It is
quite likely that if a court finds the no-advertisement clause invalid it
will find the entire License invalid, in which case there is no permission
to redistribute the software at all. So the person doing the advertising
might win the battle but lose the war.
What I'm essentially saying is that, if you want to take the position that
the advertising clause is unenforceable, you should as a consequence take
the position that you have no right to redistribute the software.
Besides, the GPL does not say in Section 6 that "You may not impose any
further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted
herein." It says nothing about those restrictions having to be "legally
enforceable". Enforceable or not, it's a restriction that's imposed; there
is at a minimum a moral imperative not to violate that condition, and hence
if you have any morals it's a restriction.
If now you consider enforceability relevant to the interpretation of the
GPL, I suggest you revisit your claim that you can license X code under the
GPL, b/c that is less likely to be enforceable than is the advertising
Anyway, it goes beyond the advertising clause. Certain parts of FSF's libc
specify that they must be licensed under terms other than the GPL, hence
they cannot be licensed under the GPL (just like X can't); and certain
parts (like libio) are licensed under the GPL and hence cannot be combined
with LGPL works like libc. However, unlike X, these portions are not
dynamically linked to libc; they are definitely part of the entire work.
> > Moreover, having looked at your libc license
> > (http://cgi.debian.org/cgi-bin/get-copyright?package=libc6), Debian
> > has not in fact converted libc to GPL, and Debian appears to
> > distribute only one copy of libc, so I guess all Debian's GPL programs
> > that link to it are in violation of the GPL (under your reading of
> > Sections 3(a) and 2(b)).
> If the advertising clause is legally relevant, yes.
Well, I thought that since Debian hasn't had an IPO, legal uncertainty is
enough to prevent distribution ;-) ?
> > When will I see Debian start distributing a separate libc/libgdbm
> > that is in fact licensed under the LGPL and to which only non-GPL
> > programs link, since under Debian's reading GPL works cannot link to
> > LGPL libraries?
> I'll see what the response is to my bug report before tackling this
> > Ohhh, but darn it, even that won't work. Debian's libc
> > includes libio, and libio is licensed under the GPL (see
> > http://cgi.debian.org/cgi-bin/get-copyright?package=libc6) (I note
> > that the exception in the libio license, which says the executable is
> > not governed by the GPL, does not apply to the source code, and your
> > reading of Sections 3(a) and 2(b) apply to the source code).
> I think that exception is clear enough about what it means.
> > Oh well, I guess Debian can't distribute Apache or Perl unless you
> > remove libio from your libc :-(.
> Again, this isn't even an issue if the advertising clause is not
> legally relevant.
It's relevant b/c you cannot relicense Apache or Perl under the GPL, and,
as you have claimed, linking with GPL works requires that to happen.
Moreover, I suspect you are ignoring the two types of advertising clauses
at issue which make Apache and Perl incompatible with the GPL (under your
curious reading of what makes something incompatible with the GPL -- this
greater rights/lesser rights conception).
> > Interestingly enough, it looks like Debian somehow thinks it can
> > distribute libc linked to libio, even though one is (apparently) under
> > the LGPL, and libio is licensed under the GPL, and they are a single
> > work (no dynamic linking issues come up).
> libio is GPL + an exception, not just plain GPL.
The exception not being relevant. You say if you modify a GPL work
(libio), you must license the entire result under the GPL. But someone has
modified libio by adding libc to it and is now distributing it under the
LGPL. If you think this is OK, then you should be able to take GPL code
and add it to Qt; I don't see any difference.
> > I found all these problems just looking at your packages for a few
> > minutes. How many could I find if I looked at all your packages? If
> > you promise to make changes to comply with your own reading of the
> > GPL, I will be happy to perform this service for you (of course, there
> > will not be a working Debian distribution left afterwards . . . .).
> If you find copyright bugs, I'll be happy to file bug reports.
> I've already filed one on the advertising clause issue -- and I'm not
> completely confident that that bug report isn't bogus. So I'll not be
> filing any more on that issue until I find out more. But if you find
> any other sorts of copyright bugs I'll be grateful.
Sure, let me name a few before doing more research (once I see you are
serious about removing these packages from Debian I will take the time to
(1) Artistic license code, such as Perl, has advertising
restrictions which are incompatible with Section 6 of the GPL;
(2) Apache cannot be relicensed under the GPL and also has
incompatible advertising restrictions and also an incompatible requirement
to rename modified works (clause 5 of the license);
(3) X cannot be relicensed under the GPL; and
(4) libc (both your modified one and the FSF's) contains code
which cannot be licensed under the GPL.
There's four bugs for you. I realize that once you remove libc, X, Apache
and Perl there won't be much left of Debian, so at that point you probably
won't need me to do any further research. (Or maybe you can get all the
authors of GPL'd programs that link to X to write a special exception into
their License saying it is OK to link against X? And maybe the Apache
Group will release Apache under the GPL so you can continue to distribute
> > The more you look at reality, the more absurd your interpretation that
> > Section 2(b) requires licensing all source code under the GPL. Nobody,
> > not even the FSF or Debian, does this.
> Like I said: if you find any problems, I'll file bug reports.
OK, I'll wait and see whether Debian really believes what it says or
whether its just blowing smoke at KDE; I certainly don't have time to
catalog license problems (under your reading of the GPL) when they will be
ignored just b/c the program is popular with Debian developers.