[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

(forw) Re: eCos license

I mailed Michael Tiemann (of Red Hat fame) about the ecos License and he
replied really quickly! (I am impressed). 

>From his reply i would deduce that he is willing to change the license. Of
cause it must not be something that says: If your are Debian ... you may...

What would be ok and could still be acceptable to them? What could be done
about the embedded system software distribution (many users of embedded
systems do not know what an embedded system is, that they use on or that what
they hold in their hands is infact a floppy disk)? Can you propose something

Since I am not on this list, please cc me.
--- Begin Message ---
I am not a lawyer, either.  But I would argue that the GPL essentially says the
same things as we do wrt this bit:

> | Any Modification which You create or to which You contribute
> | must be made available in Source Code form under the terms of
> | this License

and what you are complaining about is the requirement that information be made
available via an approved electronic distribution medium (rather than a
"preferred machine-readable format" which is what the GPL stipulates).  I could
certainly agree that if the contributor has no access to, nor makes any use of,
for any other purpose, an "approved electronic distribution medium", then we
waive this requirement.  In other words, if somebody only ever communicates
with the world by sharing floppies delivered by mule, and never writes or
receives email that can be conveyed to the internet, then we can make an
exception.  But if a developer does have access to an approved electronic
distribution medium, then like the GPL, we want sources made available for all
binaries that are shipped.  We don't want people to claim "hey, this is an
embedded system, so I cannot provide sources as part of the device I'm
building"--that's bogus, and violates the spirit of the free software.

I also don't see how the eCos license violates guideline #1 of debian,
presuming that the GPL does not violate that guideline.  The GPL clearly
restricts certain practices, as does eCos.  The eCos license restrictions have
nothing to do with payments of royalties--they only have to do with the
redistribution of source and notification of changes to the implementors in the
event that binary-only distributions are made.  If binary-only distributions
are never made, this reverts to the terms of the GPL.  So, we're giving people
one additional freedom in exchange for one additional restriction.  If you want
to make a distribution of eCos based on GPL, I can talk with people about
that--I think that's ok.  I think that it will be more challenging to ship a
floppy with every embedded system you build compared to setting up a server
that provides electronic access (or shipping said sources to Red Hat once).


Andreas Schuldei wrote:
> Dear Mr Tiemann!
> Thank you for your great work you have done (and are doing!) for redhat, open
> source and free software! I read many of your interviews lately and have a
> question about one of the points you repeatedly make.
> You stated multiple times, that the ecos license was a free one. However, the
> open source definition and the Debian Free Software Guidlines do not agree
> with that.
> I send mail to ecos-maintainers about this issue and would like to have your
> or Red Hat's official legal point of view on this. Since I am not a lawyer I
> asked people who should know and really work with this kind of stuff on a
> daily basis. This is in short what I was told on debian-legal:
> ********* one response ************
> | Any Modification which You create or to which You contribute
> | must be made available in Source Code form under the terms of
> | this License via an accepted Electronic Distribution Mechanism
> | to anyone to whom you made an Executable version available and
> | to the Initial Developer;
> [...]
> | You are responsible for notifying the Initial Developer of the
> | Modification and the location of the Source if a contact means
> | is provided.
> Prior practise on debian-legal has been to consider such clauses
> non-free, failing DFSG ##1 and 3 (in that the requirement to
> give copies to or even notify the initial author is viewed as
> a restriction).
> In this case the clause also discriminates against anyone who can
> afford giving his neighbour a floppy disk with modified sources
> but cannot afford using whatever "accepted Electronic Distribution
> Mechanism" the language means.
> ************ other response ********
> The problem with this kind of license is that it makes an open-ended
> ambiguous requirement of anyone who makes and redistributes modifications.
> [1] The world is not completely interconnected, some countries are quite
> poor, and we don't want to prevent poor people countries from being
> free to make modifications to debian.  [internet access can be quite
> expensive in some areas, and this license may even require electronic
> mechanisms which are more expensive than internet access.]
> <violates>
>   5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups
>      The license must not discriminate against any person or group of
>      persons.
> </violates>
> [2] The license says nothing about what happens if it ever turns out that
> the author is not immortal, nor if the indicated mechanism is broken in
> some other fashion.
> <violates>
>   1. Free Redistribution
>      The license of a Debian component may not restrict any party from
>      selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate
>      software distribution containing programs from several different
>      sources. The license may not require a royalty or other fee for such
>      sale.
> </violates>
> **************************************
> I am a debian developer and would like to package ecos. It could go into
> the 'non-free' category any time with this license, but I would like to have
> it in the 'main' section, since it is a really great tool and it deserves
> better than that. Plus, it would be better publicity for Red Hat, too!
> Could you talk to the people who are able to change this license into a free
> one? Something like GPL would not do any damage (rather to the contrary!).
> I talked to some people in Germany about Linux embedded systems (and also
> eCos) and the consensus was basicly that the development tools need to be
> running on ALL platforms, and all (major) architectures. And support eCos in
> Debian is just one small step to that goal, which is beneficial for all of us.
> Thank you for your time!
> Andreas Schuldei
tel;fax:+1 919 547 0024
tel;work:+1 919 547 0012 x222
org:<img src="http://www.redhat.com/img/logo_big2.gif";></A><img src="http://www.redhat.com/img/h_tagline.gif";></A>;<A HREF="http://www.redhat.com/services";>Visit Red Hat's Service Offerings at http://www.redhat.com/services</A><img src="http://www.redhat.com/img/powered_by.gif";></A>
adr:;;2600 Meridian Parkway;Durham;NC;27713;USA
fn:Michael Tiemann

--- End Message ---

Reply to: