Re: Encoding the name in the file contents
On Wed, 2002-07-24 at 20:30, Richard Braakman wrote:
> I have serious doubts about the freeness of this option, and they are
> motivated by what seems to be a closely analogous situation to me:
> web browser identification strings.
> Imagine that Microsoft, after being visited by aliens, decides to release
> Internet Explorer under the MIT license. There is only one catch: they
> added a clause that if you change the program in any way, you have to
> change the way it identifies itself when making HTTP requests, and no
> derived version is ever allowed to change it back.
> 1. Would you consider this free?
> (I assume you are familiar with the technical implications)
Under DFSG 4, yes. You may require that the name change, and a
User-Agent HTTP header is definitely a name identifier.
The condition could read something like this:
"Modified derivatives of this program must not use the name "Microsoft"
or "Internet Explorer" to identify itself in any way."
How is that different from the other licenses that allow companies to
> 2. Is this really a parallel situation?
> (Consider that it protects web designers from having their HTML
> rendered in an unexpected way.)
I don't think so. For one, Web browsers have to talk to Web servers and
identify themselves when they connect, and the Web server has the option
of delivering different content depending on the browser. Not getting
IE-compatible content when one is essentially IE (or, worse, getting a
lame "I can't talk to you" document) can be a serious problem, at least
until newer acceptable User-Agent headers start to be recognized or
until people start rewriting their headers on a proxy.
LaTeX documents, OTOH, are not delivered by a server that can detect
what program is going to be used to process it.
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