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Re: Licesing question regarding a new package named isdn2h323



On Fri, Jun 14, 2002 at 10:38:13AM +0200, Torsten Knodt wrote:
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> Hello,
> I'm currently packaging a program named isdn2h323. The problem is, that they 
> have added a kind of advertisement clause to the GPL. ftp-master James Troup 
> blieves, that this is an extra restriction to section 6 of the GPL.

Just for reference, extra restrictions are not allowed under the GNU GPL.

	6. Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on
	the Program), the recipient automatically receives a license
	from the original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the
	Program subject to these terms and conditions. You may not
	                                               ^^^^^^^^^^^
	impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of
	^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
	the rights granted herein.
	^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

> The exact added text is the following:
>  |        "You have the right to use and modify isdn2h323 only

"To use"?

GPL section 0 says:

	Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are
	not covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act
	                                                         ^^^^^^^
	of running the Program is not restricted, and the output from
	^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
	the Program is covered only if its contents constitute a work
	based on the Program (independent of having been made by running
	the Program). Whether that is true depends on what the Program
	does.

Put 0 and 6 together and you get non-free, as well as GPL violation if
isdn2h323 links with or incorporates any GPLed code not under copyright
by its author.

>  |      if the copyright messages as defined in the file 'config.h'
>  |      appear at the following places: the HTML pages created by 
>  |      isdn2h323 during runtime, the syslog system, the call log 
>  |      e-mails sent to the users. Additionally, the display of
>  |      telos' logo defined in 'ad.h' via H.261 may not be replaced
>  |      by other still images but only by actual user video."
> The upstream author, as well as me, is of the opinion, that this is
> 1) not really a restriction

I'm sorry, but that's demonstrably false.  Anything that says "You have
the right to X only if Y" can be written as "You do not have permission
to X if !Y", and that's a restriction.

> and
> 2) his right as author

I don't think anyone would challenge the author's right to license his
work however sees fit under applicable law.

> to 1)
> 	GPL in section 2 itself says, that there has to be a copyright notice shown, 
> when it's interactive. The parts where his restriction applies, are exactly 
> the interactive parts. They have only made a clarification, what the 
> interactive parts of the program are.

HTML pages are not part of the interactive experience unless isdn2h323
is written as a web-based application.

The syslog() function is not an interative process.  The system log does
not interact with anyone.  It lies there and collects messages.

E-mail messages are not an interactive process unless isn2h323 also
receives e-mail messages, processes them, and replies accordingly.

I'm confident that the FSF was thinking of an interface like a Unix command
prompt when they wrote that clause of the GPL; you are, of course, free
to ask them.

In any event, your expansive notion of what "interactive" mens is not
even the least of this license's problems.

> to 2)
> 	First, it is not a derieved work as mentioned in section 2.

I think people are willing to stipulate to this; if he's the original
author, this is probably true, unless he already holds copyright on some
earlier version or pre-existing parts of the code, in which case the
work could in fact be a derivative of some other work of the author's.
(However, this isn't really important these days; in the United States,
your copyrights will live longer than you do, so what happens when they
expire is not something you have to worry about.)

> Also section 6 does not apply, as this is not a redistribution, but
> the first distribution.  He is the author and has the right to license
> it as his will.

Within the bounds of copyright law, that is true.  He does not, however,
have a right to demand that Debian distribute it.  Section 6 of the GNU
GPL will apply to Debian and if your license makes it impossible for us
to comply with it, as it does, then we will not distribute your package.

> Based on this all, we think that the program could go in main/ contrib,

Packages only go into main if they are DFSG-free and do not depend on
anything that is not DFSG-free.

Packages only go into contrib if they are DFSG-free and depend on
non-DFSG-free works.

> or at least to non-free.

Impossible.  This work is undistributable by anyone but the author
because it contains terms that nullify the application of the GPL.

	7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of
	patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to
	patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court
	order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of
	this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this
	License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy
	simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other
	pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not
	distribute the Program at all.

The additional terms on this license back Debian into this corner.
Debian cannot distribute this work.

> The upstream author would be glad to see isdn2h323 in 
> debian, so I hope there will be a way to get it in.

Not until the license changes.

Also, FYI, the Open Source Initiative rejected an early version of the
Zope Public License which required that all webpages generated with Zope
possess and retain the Zope logo.  Debian would no doubt do the same,
just as we would reject a compiler that inserted the string "THIS CODE
COMPILED BY GCC" into the object code and forbade people from removing
it.

You may want to have a look at this URL:

http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#TOCGPLOutput

> For the interested, I have the packages avalaible for download on 
> http://www.student.informatik.tu-darmstadt.de/~knodt .
> 
> Please send your answers also directly to us two.

Done.

Thanks for your license inquiry.

-- 
G. Branden Robinson                |       The only way to get rid of a
Debian GNU/Linux                   |       temptation is to yield to it.
branden@debian.org                 |       -- Oscar Wilde
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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