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Re: Opinion on the SNNS licence

Santiago Vila <sanvila@unex.es> wrote:
> Yann Dirson wrote:
> > 1. Main clause says: "You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of
> > SNNS's source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you
> > conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate
> > copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the
> > notices that refer to this License and to the absence of any warranty;
> > and give any other recipients of SNNS a copy of this license along
> > with SNNS."
> >
> > The "conspicuously and appropriately publish..." reminds me of the
> > advertisement clause in original BSD - is it as bad, or not ?
> I think it just means you should not remove lines saying "copyright somebody",
> which seems fair enough.
> > 2. The "You may not distribute modified copies of SNNS. You may,
> > however, distribute your modifications as separate files (e.,g. patch
> > files) along with the unmodified SNNS software." reminds me of the TeX
> > licence.  But here they talk about "SNNS", not "SNNS source code" as
> > in other parts.  That seems to imply that binaries built from modified
> > SNNS cannot be redistributed.  Is it just a wrong interpretation on my
> > part ?
> I interpret it the same way. According to DFSG, License should
> explicitly allow distribution of modified binaries, and this license
> does not explicitly allow them. I suggest asking for a clarification.

I agree with the above analysis.  However, I'm also worried about the

  Incorporation of SNNS or parts of it in commercial programs requires
  a special agreement between the copyright holder and the Licensee in
  writing and ususally involves the payment of license fees. If you
  want to incorporate SNNS or parts of it in commercial programs write
  to the author about further details.

It is not very well defined what a "commercial" program is.  One
possible definition is any program sold for a profit.  Since Debian CD
manufacturers are trying to make money, it seems that they couldn't
distribute it.  But there is also the section

  If you distribute copies of SNNS you may not charge anything except
  the cost for the media and a fair estimate of the costs of computer
  time or network time directly attributable to the copying.

which doesn't cover, say, the cost of porting SNNS to OpenBSD.  These
sections seem to run afoul of DFSG#1, Free Redistribution, though I'm
not sure.  Perhaps you could get this clarified as well?

Overall, this license reads like a GPL wannabee, with all of the
requisite vagueness and over-reach.  Any possibility of having them
change over to the GPL?

Walter Landry

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