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Re: Aspell-en's questionable license

I've been discussing this with the FSF's outside counsel, Dan Ravicher. 
I have some ideas for how to generate a new word-list if we do end up
needing one, but I don't want to discuss them until I've talked with a
lawyer.  I'll probably get some sort of final answer with Dan tomorrow
at the GPL Compliance Lab conference call.

On Tue, 2002-11-05 at 00:49, Brian Nelson wrote:
> Richard,
> 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
>   research.
> 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
> message:
> http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2002/debian-legal-200211/msg00041.html
> Thank you for your time,
> Brian
> -- 
> People said I was dumb, but I proved them!
> -- 
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-Dave Turner                        Stalk Me: 617 441 0668
"Your subsequent comparison of Cornell University with the 
Ku Klux Klan is probably, umm, a slight exaggeration, but 
never mind." -John Baez (sci.physics.research)

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