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Re: One unclear point in the Vim license

On Wed, Jan 02, 2002 at 11:34:26AM +0100, Bram Moolenaar wrote:
> Branden Robinson wrote:
> > 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.
> The problem with this is that it's not really fair towards people who
> help me developing Vim.  I want it to be clear what can happen with the
> source code they contribute.  Just mentioning that "anything can happen"
> with the license isn't a good idea, in my opinion.

Well, for one thing, I didn't say "anything can happen", and for
another, you don't have to either.  You already say "This is
negotiable." in your existing license.  I don't see how what I wrote
above differs in any important way.

I'm trying to make it clear that I'm not saying you should license Vim
under the GPL and only the GPL.  I'm saying that as long as the GPL
doesn't *allow* people to do things with Vim that you find completely
unacceptable, then it might be worth licensing Vim under the GPL.  You
can *also* license Vim simultaneously under whatever terms you want to
anyone else, if you fear that the GPL is imposing restrictions that are
unpalatable to some of your audience.

> Also, I prefer people making changes to send me a copy directly.  This
> stimulates the further development.  The license is the right place to
> make this clear.

As long as it's not a requirement, but rather exhortation, it's

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

Copyright infrigment.

> The damages they have done to the free software world?  That doesn't
> make much sense.

No, copyright infringement.  Vim is copyright by Bram Moolenaar.

> I don't think I would be able to sue them for anything but making the
> source code available to me.  Don't want to waste money on that!

What *are* you willing to waste money on?  If you're never going to take
anyone to court for violating the copyright on Vim, there's not much
point copyrighting it, is there?

> I don't think a court would ever get involved.

What does a copyright mean to you?

> That's a good reason not to spend too much time on this license.

If you don't want to spend too much time on your license, I suggest you
use one of the tried and true standbys.  The MIT/X Consortium license,
the 2- or 3-clause BSD licenses, or the GNU GPL or LGPL.

> It's only to avoid that someting bad will happen (like the guy that
> took Elvis and make Lemmy out of it, keeping the source code for
> himself).

Then you probably want a "copyleft", like one of the GNU licenses, since
the MIT and BSD licenses offer no such protection.

However, if you're unwilling to pursue remedies in court for infringers
of your copyright then I very strongly suggest rethinking having your
own license.

> > Debian reserves the right to reject licenses as non-free without having
> > to cite a specific clause of the DFSG as basis.
> It is a lot friendlier if you just tell me what the problem is...

Yes, hence why I said it's better to give grounds for rejection.

> > 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.
> To me it sounds like the GPL also breaks the rule, since it has many
> considerations for distributing the software (requiring to make the
> source code available, even when you distribute only binaries).

That's not what "consideration" means legally.  It means I get something
in exchange for what you're giving me.  You might pay me cash to mow
your lawn.  Or it could be more subtle, like I require your credit card
number on file for as long as you run my software.

Requiring people who distribute binary code to make source code
available *to the people to whom they distributed the binary code* is
not a "consideration" of the copyright holder in any way.  He is not a
party to the transaction.  No one one gives him money, buys him shares
of stock, gives him a manicure, cleans his house, or deposits a urine
sample with him for DNA sequencing.  The copyright holder need not even
know that the transacation is taking place.

It's different with Vim.  I can't redistribute my modified Vim without
contacting Bram Moolennar.

>  Only public domain software would fully meet this rule...  I suppose
>  that's not how this was intended.  This confuses me.

You were just missing the meaning of "consideration".

  Consideration \Con*sid`er*a"tion\
     (k[o^]n*s[i^]d`[~e]r*[=a]"sh[u^]n), n. [L. consideratio: cf.
     F. consid['e]ration.]
     7. (Law) The cause which moves a contracting party to enter
        into an agreement; the material cause of a contract; the
        price of a stripulation; compensation; equivalent.
        [1913 Webster]

     Note: Consideration is what is done, or promised to be done,
           in exchange for a promise, and ``as a mere advantage to
           the promisor without detriment to the promisee would
           not avail, the proper test is detriment to the
           promisee.'' --Wharton.
           [1913 Webster]

From WordNet (r) 1.7 [wn]:

       5: a fee charged in advance to retain the services of someone
          [syn: {retainer}]

G. Branden Robinson                |
Debian GNU/Linux                   |           //     // //  /     /
branden@debian.org                 |           EI 'AANIIGOO 'AHOOT'E
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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