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Aspell-en's questionable license


It has come to the attention of debian-legal that the aspell-en package
is licensed under questionable terms.  In particular, aspell-en uses the
"DEC Word List," which contains the following notice:


  To the best of my knowledge, all the files I used to build these
  wordlists were available for public distribution and use, at least
  for non-commercial purposes.  I have confirmed this assumption with
  the authors of the lists, whenever they were known.

  Therefore, it is safe to assume that the wordlists in this package
  can also be freely copied, distributed, modified, and used for
  personal, educational, and research purposes.  (Use of these files in
  commercial products may require written permission from DEC and/or
  the authors of the original lists.)

Naturally, this violates the following clause of the Debian Free
Software Guidelines:

  No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor

  The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in
  a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the
  program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic

The GNU/Aspell maintainer, Kevin Atkinson, has stated that you reviewed
and accepted this license as suitable for use with the GNU/Aspell
project.  On behalf of debian-legal, I would like to ask if you could
clarify your position regarding the terms of the aspell-en license, and
in particular, the DEC Word List "license".

Debian's current stance was nicely summarized by Jeff Licquia in this


Thank you for your time,

People said I was dumb, but I proved them!

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