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Re: OSD && DFSG - different purposes - constructive suggestion!

On Mon, Mar 10, 2003 at 03:11:29PM +1300, Nick Phillips wrote:
> On Fri, Mar 07, 2003 at 05:49:28PM -0500, Joe Moore wrote:

> > Q: What about licenses that grant different rights to different groups? 
> > Isn't that discrimination, banned by DFSG#5/6?
> > A: For Debian's purposes, if all the different groups can exercise their
> > DFSG rights, it's OK if there are other people who can do more.
> >    For example, if a work were licensed under the 3-clause BSD license
> > only to elementary school teachers, but the GPL to everyone else, it
> > would be DFSG-Free.

> I suggest that you may be mistaken here; in fact what makes the hypothetical
> package you describe free is that all a free to take the software under the
> terms of the GPL. The fact that some may choose to use the BSD license is then
> irrelevant.

> Were you to say that the teachers may only take the software under the terms
> of the BSD license, and that everyone else may only take it under the terms
> of the GPL, then I don't believe we would have such a clear consensus.

> It would make me uneasy, at least.

> Any comments, anybody?

I'm having a hard time answering this question for myself, one way or the
other.  It seems to be a tenet that a license is ok if it provides
*additional* freedoms to a limited class of users.  Arguably, most
licenses give the copyright holder himself preferential treatment, in
that he retains certain rights that are not granted to others.  If it's
ok to give some people more freedom with your license so long as everyone
enjoys the freedoms we require, why can't this be done using two separate

Note that the limits you're placing in your example (group x can have
this license, group y can have this license) mean that neither the
3-clause BSD nor the GPL is actually in effect -- you've modified both
licenses by limiting who's eligible.  I'm not sure if this makes it
non-free; if the license is worded such that a teacher receiving the
source under the BSD license can't redistribute modifications under the
BSD license to *non*-teachers, then it's certainly non-free.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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