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Re: draft for new Vim license

(Replies from multiple messages.)

On Sun, Jan 06, 2002 at 12:46:51PM +0100, Bram Moolenaar wrote:
> Including the GPL actually makes it a lot more complicated.  It's hard
> to read and even harder to understand.  How often does RMS have to
> correct wrong ideas about the GPL?  It's not so clear what the GPL
> really means.  I can't say I fully understand it.

I find the GPL clearer, myself.  Your license reads like this to me:
"You can do A; B (if someone did A to you), C, D (if someone did C to you)
but D only if X, Y and Z."  (On rereading, the there's no second "if
someone did C to you", but that only became clear after reading it a
couple times.)

The GPL has a lot more in it, but none of it inspires me to write a flowchart.

> As I already said, it's allowed to compile, but you might not be allowed
> to distribute the result.  That's actually the main problem of the GPL I
> don't like.  But the dual-licensing would solve that.

Which is it, linkable-but-not-distributable or not-linkable-at-all?
(Question to this list, really; it's GPL's license that would place
these restrictions, not yours.  Yours just trigger them.)

> In the dual-license situation you do get this problem.  A fork of Vim
> might appear where a GPL'ed change has caused the whole to become GPL,
> since the alternative license can't be used together with the GPL'ed
> piece.
> With the draft license I sent there is the same problem, except that the
> changes must always be included.  That's stricter than the GPL (which
> allows distibuting binaries under some conditions).  That makes sure the
> changes have a much wider distribution and it will be easier for me to
> see them.  But I'm not sure that is sufficient...

With your draft, wouldn't that force a person to choose the GPL-compatible
options (if distributing binaries linked against GPM)?  That is, wouldn't that
forbid choosing 3a or 3b, since those would prevent me, a user receiving the
modified binaries linked against GPM, from having some guaranteed way of
getting the source to those modifications?

If dual-licensed, and linked against a GPL library, wouldn't that force a
person to choose the GPL option, for the same reason?

If either of these aren't true, then it would seem this would be a way to
distribute binaries linked against GPL libraries without source, and I
doubt that's the case.

This would mean there's a hidden restriction in your current draft: if
the binary is linked against GPM (or any other libraries for other
systems under the GPL), you can't choose 3a or 3b.

> Although this is a bit unlikely to happen, I like the principle that the
> person who makes the changes must send me those changes when I ask for
> them.  I don't want to hunt them down.  Thus allowing someone to use the
> GPL for the modified Vim may cause a problem for me.  It might result in
> making the changes inaccesible for me.

I think this can happen with the draft.  I distribute a bunch of copies
of modified Vim to friends, under 3c.  I don't have to give you source,
unless I happen to give you the binary.  The people I gave the copies to
don't, either, unless they redistribute it again under 3d.

I'm a bit confused here:

	d) When you have a modified Vim which includes changes, as mentioned
What is a modified Vim that doens't include changes?  (Do you mean a
diff?  You don't require that a diff be used; more likely I have a whole
source tree that's been changed.)

	4) The contact information as mentioned under 3) must not be removed
	or changed.
Some room to fix errors would be nice.  You require that contact information
valid for three years be provided, like the GPL; but mistakes happen and
houses get bulldozed.  Some way to update contact information, as long as
it's your own, would help.  (The GPL's wording is completely different; 

	- You clearly mention in the distribution how to contact you within
	at least three years after last distributing the modified Vim.

I read this as "You clearly mention XXX within at least three years".  (Take a
look at the GPL's wording; it's more precise.)

> I have never heard from someone who said he would help developing Vim if
> it would use another license.

Don't assume this means it hasn't happened.  I have, in the past, tries
a program; gone "hey, this is neat--maybe I'll work on it", looked at
the license, saw that I didn't like it and simply said "oh well".

> > > However, nobody really cares about what the official rules are.

There have been quite a few counterexamples in this discussion alone.
You do, or you wouldn't be using your own license.  I do; I always look
at licenses before even considering writing substantial code for a program.

> > I disagree.  Debian, and more specifically SPI, does not want to get
> > sued for copyright infringment, or for "contributory infringment"
> Ah, so Debian has written and signed permission from all copyright
> holders?  Don't think so...  I don't know how valid the copyright and
> license remarks in the files are.  There are quite a few files without a
> license that makes clear copying is allowed.

That's why there are a bunch of people on debian-legal trying to fix this
up.  Just because it's not perfect doesn't mean they don't care.

> > In actual fact, though, the interpretation of the GPL you should be most
> > concerned about at present is that of Andrew Haylett and Alessando
> > Rubini.  Perhaps you could ask them to add a rider to their license on
> > the GPM library to explicitly permit linking with Vim?
> That's a very specific solution to a generic problem.

I'm in agreement, here.  I can't stand those "here are the terms; but
this and this specific package are exempt" exceptions.  I wouldn't like
to see them added to GPM; if they want to allow this type of thing then
I'd rather see them switch to the LGPL and remain consistent.

Are there any other libraries that might have this problem?  Vim can
link optionally against a ton of libraries.

Glenn Maynard

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