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Re: FilterProxy and DFSG

On Mon, Mar 12, 2001 at 06:49:59PM -0600, Bob McElrath wrote:
> Richard Braakman [dark@xs4all.nl] wrote:
> > On Mon, Mar 12, 2001 at 05:37:40PM -0600, Bob McElrath wrote:
> > GPL section 6, when talking about distributing the program, says
> > "You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients'
> > exercise of the rights granted herein."
> I'll go ahead and argue that unrestraind usage is not a "right granted"
> within the GPL.

AIUI (and IANAL) it doesn't have to be: copyright only restricts people
making copies of a program, not using it.

It's probably possible to contract out of this, so that the users give
up their rights to use the program however they choose once they have
a copy, but this has to be in return for something. So you could say
something like "You may only distribute this program if you don't use
it for designing weapons to hurt baby seals" or something like that,
but other than that, even as the author of the program, you don't get
to dictate how anyone might use it.

> > The next statement, "Any work derived from FilterProxy must include
> > this License in addition to the GPL", would also be a "further
> > restriction" under section 6.  
> Again, if usage is not a right "granted herein", then requiring the
> secondary license is not a restriction on those rights.  

That's a restriction on the right to distribute and modify it, not usage
though, fwiw.

Usually usage restrictions are taken as making a program non-free;
so FilterProxy's license fails DFSG 6: it discriminates against people
trying to transparently remove swear words from web pages, eg.

It's difficult to argue why it's bad in this case: you're allowed to do
anything as long as the person you're doing it to knows what you're doing,
and generally knowing stuff is a Good Thing. The sorts of cases where
it might be annoying is if your userbase statistically wants to use it
(ie, you do surveys and 97% of your userbase wants to have naughty words
filtered out), and you'd like to just have it automatically enabled with
an opt-out option somewhere. Or if you're in some nutcase country that's
obsessed with knee-jerk censorship of everything, and you're legally
required to filter out naughty words, at least until the law gets fixed
to make sense again.

Normally, DFSG 6 allows you to just get a Debian CD and then do pretty
much whatever you want with it, no matter who you are, or what you want,
without worrying about licenses *at all*. Usage restrictions violate
that rule.


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

``_Any_ increase in interface difficulty, in exchange for a benefit you
  do not understand, cannot perceive, or don't care about, is too much.''
                      -- John S. Novak, III (The Humblest Man on the Net)

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