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Re: FYI: Zope Public License 1.1 vague, contradictory, and not DFSG-free

On Wed, Sep 05, 2001 at 09:20:54AM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> Yes, and like most of the other hacks the author of this license cobbled
> onto the BSD terms, what is meant by "packaged" is not specified
> anywhere.
> That's what I think the author means to say; that isn't what the license
> actually says.  It says "Modifications must be packaged separately."
> Period.

Except that he doesn't define "separately" either.  Which means we need
to rely on common sense and the standard english usages of those words.

I think the presence of the sources in one file and the diffs in a
distinct file is sufficiently separate for unoffical status.  I imagine
that less obvious techniques would also be valid under this license (such
as distributing the modified source and the diffs with documentation
such that patch can recover the original form of the code).

The obscure part is the status of the binaries -- which covered
by copyright law as translations of the sources.  Our binaries are
representations of the modified sources, and we have no exact equivalent
to patch, to recover the alternate form of the binaries.  The closest
equivalent is using gcc to translate the unmodified sources (which we
do provide).

Of course, if the author objects, we should stop distributing the package
on that basis.  And, of course, it's a good idea to give the author a
chance to object before we start distributing the thing.

And, you're right: given the way this is phrased, the author probably
hasn't thought this through in terms of what copyright law is.

> Debian has rejected well-meaning but poorly worded licenses in the past,
> and in some cases this has led to rewording of licenses for greater
> clarity, and sometimes even made them DFSG-free.

I think it's worth contacting the author and suggesting improvements.

I don't think this license is as bad as many of the others we've seen
[many didn't even consider the issue of distribution of modifications].

> I continue to feel that this license is dangerously vague, and I
> reiterate my offer to work with the Zope Corporation, or Digital
> Creations, or whoever is in charge of it to clean it up, if Gregor is
> agreeable to that proposal.  Since it's his package I think it's only
> correct if I regard him as the proper liaison with upstream.

Personally: I think that's worthwhile.

Good luck,


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