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Re: PHPNuke license

On Fri, Feb 28, 2003 at 12:20:22PM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> > I think this is not good for the same reason as the BSD advertising clause.
> Well, it's *worse* than the BSD advertising clause, and since the DFSG
> implicitly permits the BSD advertising clause, this analogy isn't
> persuasive.

I didn't try to reach a conclusion about DFSG-freeness with the above
statement for the precise reason that I couldn't find a consensus on the
issue with my quick list searching.  I'm just saying "I don't like the BSD
advertising clause, and this is like that, and I dont like it either."


> We do implicitly accept one narrowly-drawn exception to DFSG 3, and that
> is the GNU GPL's 2c).  However, PHPNuke's restriction is not the GNU
> GPL's 2c, and I think have every right to object to a proliferation of
> unremovable spew in what should be Free software, and web content whose
> copyright in and of itself belongs to other people.

I agree with your assesment.

However, I would like to play devil's advocate for a second:

  A person could consider a Web application to be a program that
  "reads commands interactively" in the same sense that a GUI app does.
  In this sense, GPL 2c is binding upon us to leave that in place.
  This is the argument made by the FSF staffer I cited before.

The problem with that argument is that 2c does not state HOW the notice has
to be stated.  It could be in an "About" box on the site.  The Yale LawMeme
is taking the position that embedding it in a comment in the HTML source is
sufficient.  I think that is a shaky argument along the lines of "well I
embedded a copyright notice in the X protocol stream, it's not my fault that
it's black on black text..."

Another issue raised here is that we could be dealing with a little
different set of circumstances if you consider the act of viewing a web page
as distributing parts of the source code to PHPNuke, possibly modified. 
This is a whole quagmire and trying to figure out its implications is not a
quick exercise.

I'm not saying I endorse either of those positions; just that they have been
advanced and we should take note of them.

> I'll note that the GNU GPL's 2c), for instance, does not mandate that
> the announcement of the copyright notice and warranty disclaimer be
> placed into files output or processed by the software, which is what
> PHPNuke is doing.

It does mandate that it be shown or available to the user.  So you are
correct that they are going beyond that, though.

> Moreover, the copyright holders of PHPNuke are compelling us as
> licensees to impose a "futher restriction" on the exercise by users of
> this Debian package of their rights under the GNU GPL.  This is not
> permitted by GPL clause 6, and therefore the Debian Project "may not
> distribute the Program at all." (GPL clause 7)

I'm not sure this really makes sense.  We have seen other software licensed
with "GPL with exceptions" before -- such as software that uses OpenSSL.  I
think this is a case of the copyright holder using "GPL with exceptions".

Perhaps I'm missing something here.  I smell a rat but can't quite stomp on

-- John

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