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Re: Bug#158320: ITP: cl-defsystem3 -- A system definition and building package for Common Lisp programs



On Thu, Nov 14, 2002 at 10:44:43PM -0700, Kevin Rosenberg wrote:
> Also, is the requirement to change the name also non-DFSG compatible?

I forgot to answer this point.

There has been some debate recently over *precisely* what DFSG 4 means
(see the archives of debian-legal regarding the LaTeX Project Public
License), so I'll offer you the most conservative interpretation, which
if followed will pretty much ensure no DFSG 4 problems:

"The license may require derived works to carry a different name or
version number from the original software."

This means that you can require that the name or version number carried
by the work may be compelled to differ from those used by the work as
distributed by the copyright holder.

The "name of the work" and "version number" are legal concepts and not a
reference to any particular technological mechanism.  That is, a
DFSG-free license can require a human being must be able to discern that
the name or version number of the work has changed in some way from the
original, but it may neither mandate the exact nature of the change (as
long as the fact of a change is clear and unambiguous), nor may it
compel the implementation of a particular technological mechanism to
communicate this change.  In other words, you cannot insist that a
package name change, that a file name change, that a version number add
the string "-FNORD", or that software mechanisms which "handshake" with
each other based on data that act like names or version numbers must
reflect the change in a way directly comprehensible by humans (or at
all, for that matter).

The rationale behind what some people have characterized as a hard-line
interpretation of DFSG 4 is to make sure that Debian and Debian users
are free to implement compatbility mechanisms with any particular piece
of software, and fork a piece of DFSG-free software to do it.  Such
compatiblity mechanisms are necessarily technological, such as the name
of a package (consider "Provides: foobar"), or the versioning declared
by a shared ELF object.

However, this doesn't mean that modifiers of works whose licenses
mandate name or version number changes can just ignore the requirement.
Far from it; it's still part of the copyright license and the penalties
for willful infringement of copyright can be stiff.  It's a good idea to
note the change, certainly in the debian/copyright file, and possibly in
other places like the package description, a README file, a
human-readable usage message, a manual page, and so forth.  Make sure
the change is noticeable to human beings in as many ways as you think
are reasonably necessary to cover your ass legally, in other words.

ObFullDisclosure: Some people on debian-legal have a considerably
different interpretations of DFSG 4, and feel that a license can mandate
not only the content but the mechanism of a change in name or version
number without violating the clause.  File renaming requirements were
at the heart of the contention over the LaTeX Project Public License.

-- 
G. Branden Robinson                |    Any man who does not realize that
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    he is half an animal is only half a
branden@debian.org                 |    man.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |    -- Thornton Wilder

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