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Re: DFSG status of DFARS clause?

Chris Lawrence <lawrencc@debian.org> writes:

> http://www.acq.osd.mil/dp/dars/dfars/html/r20011001/252227.htm#252.227-7013

Ah, thanks.

> In the current DFARS, this appears to be subparagraph (b).  Frankly
> the whole thing looks like a confusing mess but it appears to obligate
> the federal government to respect copyright law except in cases where
> software was developed exclusively with government funds.  I recommend
> finding a lawyer.

I'd rather avoid the expense if possible.  Can we get an opinion from
SPI's lawyer?

> I really don't see anything in DFARS that would restrict the ability
> of the U.S. government to use any DFSG-free software, though it's
> possible DFARS may give them additional rights not granted by license
> (in which case you could argue that the restricted rights legend
> actually discriminates against non-government users) in certain cases,
> particularly if the entire project was government financed.  I could

I can see that.... I assume that I should be looking at the definition
of "limited rights" in paragraph (a)(13)?

> only see this as a problem with something that was GPLed or otherwise
> copylefted (ex: GPLed software that is financed by the govt could be
> modified by the govt and combined with non-GPL-compatible software); a
> BSD-style license (which I think Tcl/Tk is under) doesn't restrict
> derived works anyway.

The remainder of the license looks like a BSD/MIT variant sans
advertising clause:

	You may use the software internally, modify it, make
	copies and distribute the software to third parties,
	including redistribution for profit, provided each copy
	of the software you make contains the copyright notice
	set forth above, the disclaimer below, and the authorship
	attribution below.

> If anything, it seems like a separate license for the government,
> which may or may not be the same thing as a discriminatory
> license... though we generally don't argue that dual-licensed software
> is non-free unless all of the licenses aren't DFSG-free and/or the
> range of all possible software users isn't covered by a DFSG-free
> license; e.g. GNU Ghostscript 6.51 is GPLed, but it was also licensed
> under the AFPL [as Aladdin Ghostscript 6.50] before being freed, and
> Aladdin licenses copies of Aladdin Ghostscript under other non-free
> licenses, yet GNU Ghostscript is DFSG-free.

*nod* In this case, the difference in rights is pretty slight: AFAICT,
the only right the government gets but civilians don't is to produce
internal versions without certain notices.

Thanks for the pointer and the explanation.

Aaron M. Ucko, KB1CJC <amu@mit.edu> (finger amu@monk.mit.edu)

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