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Re: draft for new Vim license

On Thu, Jan 03, 2002 at 11:14:12PM +0100, Bram Moolenaar wrote:

> I have attempted to add the possibility to allow people to distribute a
> modified Vim, under the condition that they include the source code.
> This makes it possible to distribute it in a (more or less) closed group
> of people and not having to provide a copy to the maintainer (that's
> me).  For example, it would be possible to distribute a modified version
> of Vim within a company, so long as the sources are also available to
> the people using this modified version of Vim.  Thus it's possible that
> the changes are kept as a secret within that company.

Thanks very much for putting effort into this, Mr. Moolenaar.  I know a
lot of people don't find it easy to deal with paranoid license freaks.

> Another possibility is that one person makes changes, passes this on
> (including source code) to someone else, and this person does not pass
> on the sources, but is willing to make them available when asked for.
> This makes it possible to pass on the responsibility to send the
> maintainer the source code to someone else (e.g., from an ad-hoc
> programmer to a distributor).
> I think this is quite liberal.  Perhaps a bit too much?
> The text has gotten longer than I hoped for.  And there might still be a
> "hole" somewhere, it's getting complicated.  Thus this is really a
> draft, and I am not sure yet if I will want to use it for Vim.

Remember, there is always the dual-licensing option.  It's probably less
desirable than a GPL-compatible Vim license that says what you want
though.  (GPL compatibility would ordinarily just be a nice bonus, but
usage of the gpm library has put a fly in the ointment.)

> Also, since this changes the intention of the license, I will have to
> ask Vim contributors if they agree with this change.

Please let us know what they think.

> Let me know if you have suggestions for improvement.

I do have a couple of suggestions but I *think* they are just further
clarficiations of your intent.  Plus a bunch of grammatical and
stylistic fixups.

> I)  There are no restrictions on distributing unmodified copies of Vim except
>     that they must include this license text.  You can also distibute parts of
>     Vim, likewise unrestricted except that they must include this license
>     text.

I would say "You can also distribute unmodified parts of Vim".
Just so people can't weasel out by removing the sentence from context.

>     You are also allowed to include executables that you made from the
                   ^^^^^^^    ^^^^^^^
                   permitted  distribute
>     unmodified Vim sources, plus your own usage examples and Vim scripts.
> II) It is allowed to distribute a modified version of Vim, with executables
>     and/or source code, when the following four conditions are met:
>     1) This license text must be included unmodified.
>     2) A user of the modified Vim must be able to see that it was modified, at
>        least in the version information and in the intro screen.
>     3) The modified Vim must be distributed in one of the following four ways:
>        a) If you make changes to Vim, you must clearly mention in the
> 	  distribution how to contact you.

I would add "This information must be clear and accurate."

> 	  When the maintainer asks you (in
> 	  any way) for a copy of the modified Vim you distributed, you must
> 	  make the changes, including source code, available to the
> 	  maintainer.  The maintainer reserves the right to include the
> 	  changes in the official version of Vim.  What the maintainer will do
> 	  with the changes and under what license they are distributed is
               ^^^                                     ^^^
               your                                    will be
> 	  negotiable.  If there was no negotiation then this license also
                                ^^^               ^
                                has been          ,
> 	  applies to the changes.
> 	  The current maintainer is Bram Moolenaar <Bram@vim.org>.  If this
> 	  changes it will be announced in appropriate places (most likely
> 	  vim.sf.net, www.vim.org and/or comp.editors).  When it is completely
> 	  impossible to contact the maintainer, the obligation to send him the
> 	  changes ceases.  Once the maintainer has confirmed that he received
> 	  the changes they will not have to be send again.
                     ^                         ^^^^
                     ,                         sent
>        b) If you have received a modified Vim that was distributed as
> 	  mentioned under a) you are allowed to further distribute it
> 	  unmodified, as mentioned at I).  For additional changes the text
                                           ^^^                   ^,
                                           If you make
> 	  under a) applies again.
                           to you

Aside from the grammatical edits, the above is changed to make it clear
that people who make modifications to Vim only have to take
responsibility for *their* own changes, not those made by others.
That's why I changed "the changes" to "your changes", etc.

>        c) Provide the changes, including source code, with every copy of the
            You can

> 	  modified Vim you distribute.  This may be done in the form of a
> 	  context diff.  You can chose what license to use for new code you
> 	  add, so long as it does not restrict present or future official Vim
> 	  distributions in any way.

Uh, I think that asking people to use a license that does not restrict
future official Vim distributions in any way is making an impossible
demand.  They cannot know what license may be placed on Vim in the

Can I suggest this instead?

"You can choose what license to use for the changes you make, as long as
it does not restrict the ability of anyone to comply with this license
when they use a modified version of Vim that includes your changes."

That's basically what you mean, right?

Also, you regard the availability of Debian source packages as complying
with c), right?

>        d) When you have a modified Vim which includes changes, as mentioned
> 	  under c), you can distribute it without the source code for the
> 	  changes if these conditions are met:
                     all of the following
> 	  - The license that applies to the changes does not disallow
> 	    you to give the changes to the Vim maintainer and does not
> 	    disallow the maintainer to include the changes in the
> 	    official version of Vim.

Er, I'd say this more like:

"The license that applies to the changes permits you distribute the
changes to the Vim maintainer without fee or restriction, and permits
the Vim maintainer to include the changes in the official version of Vim
without fee or restriction."

This is, I think, what you mean, plus it makes clear that they can't
license it like, "You can give these changes to the Vim maintainer if
you pay me $5,000."

> 	  - You keep the changes for at least three years after last
> 	    distributing the modified Vim.
                          ^        ^--------|
                          corresponding     version of
> 	    When the maintainer or someone who you distributed the
> 	    modified Vim to asks you (in any way) for the changes within
> 	    this period, you must make them available to him.
> 	  - You clearly mention in the distribution how to contact you
> 	    within at least three years after last distributing the
> 	    modified Vim.

Er, that last point is a bit awkward grammatically.

How about:

"You clearly describe in the distributed, modified version of Vim how to
contact you.  This contact information must be clear, accurate, and
remain valid for a period of at least three years from the date you last
distribute the modified version of Vim."

>     4) The contact information as mentioned under 3) must not be removed or
>        changed.
> If you distribute a modified version of Vim, you are encouraged to make it
> available to the maintainer, including the source code.  The preferred way to
> do this is by e-mail or by uploading the files to a server and e-mailing the
> URL.  If the number of changes is small (e.g., a modified Makefile) e-mailing
> a context diff will do.  The e-mail address to be used is <maintainer@vim.org>
> It is not allowed to remove this license from the distribution of the Vim
> sources, parts of it or from a modified version.  You may use this license for
> previous Vim releases instead of the license that they came with, at your
> option.

Hopefully the above suggestions are not too objectionable.

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

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