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Re: One unclear point in the Vim license

On Tue, Jan 01, 2002 at 11:27:46PM +0100, Bram Moolenaar wrote:
> The GPL requires you to make the source code available to every user.
> That's quite bit stickier, in my opinion.  For most companies that means
> they can't make money on their software.  That's the main disadvantage of
> using the GPL and the main reason commercial software companies don't
> like the GPL.  I always run into this problem when writing software
> which isn't supposed to be published.  You can't use any parts of GPL
> software then.  I do want to allow this with the Vim sources (after
> negotiating this with me).

If there's nothing else objectionable to you about the GPL, then it
sounds like one easy way out of this tedious thread would be just to GPL
Vim and add a section to your copyright boilerplate:

  Alternative licensing terms are available; contact
  <maintainer@vim.org> to negotiate terms.

> Neither the GPL nor the Vim license explicitly require you to keep the
> changes around.  Only in specific cases you might have to keep a copy
> as a consequence of choices you make.  With the GPL you also get into
> this situation if you give someone only the executable.  Then you need
> to allow the user to get the source code later, thus you need to keep a
> copy.

Or just tell them where to find it at the time you give them the
executable.  If they don't avail themselves of that opportunity at that
time, that's their problem, at least as long as you yourself don't cause
that resource to become unavailable.

> > Um, no.  You don't want to consider these cases, but they are
> > precisely the cases that an organization like Debian must consider.
> > Upstream sources of software go away all the time.  Debian developers
> > go away.  People vanish.  
> When someone vanishes I can't ask them for the changes, right?  Or hit
> them on the head because he didn't follow the rules of the license.  So
> this is irrelevant.

No, you can always sue them in court.  If they don't respond to the
summons they won't be represented.

> If you don't want to explain your point then it doesn't make sense to
> continue this discussion.  You didn't mention the part of the DFSG that
> the Vim license would not meet.

Debian reserves the right to reject licenses as non-free without having
to cite a specific clause of the DFSG as basis.  This should be done
sparingly, of course.  However, read broadly, I can see most
objectionable licensing terms (hypothetical and otherwise) as violating

	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.

In practice, Debian appears to read this more like:

	The license of a Debian component may not restrict any party
	from selling or giving away the software.  The license may not
	require a fee or consideration of any kind in exchange for the
	right to use, modify, or distribute the software.

"Consideration of any kind" would include obvious things like the
compulsion of copyright assignment in any changes (N.B., copyright law
in some jurisdictions may already effectively do so, but that's
irrelevant to the DFSG), but also things like "registration" or the
compelled disclosure of information about the user of his system.

G. Branden Robinson                |      It doesn't matter what you are
Debian GNU/Linux                   |      doing, emacs is always overkill.
branden@debian.org                 |      -- Stephen J. Carpenter
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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