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Re: PHP-Nuke: A calling for votes

On Mon, Mar 10, 2003 at 08:55:24AM -0800, Mark Rafn wrote:
> I disagree with #1 and #2.  And, in fact, I belive that the PHPNuke 
> author's interpretation of GPL 2c is so bizarre that it's not actually 
> GPL-licensed software anymore.

Actually, it's possible that the author is not interpreting GPL 2(c)
at all.  At least, I haven't seen him refer to it.  He just states
that the footer is required.

> We have?  Many of us don't like 2c, but I haven't seen anyone claim that 
> the common interpretation is unfree.

*raises hand*

I won't say it's non-free in Debian's sense, but it's one of the reasons
I no longer use the GPL on my own work.  (Sorry, David, I told you
earlier that 2(a) was "the reason", but in discussions here I found

I like it even less now that someone pointed out that 2(c) automatically
kicks in when code from noninteractive programs is added to (or modified
to) interactive programs.  Until I saw that, I thought that I could
ignore it for my own programs just by not making them emit such a notice.

The reason I don't like it is that such a requirement can really get
in the way when making programs usable in a low-bandwidth or tiny-display
environment.  And both those qualities tend to occur together when
dealing with handheld devices.  And since programs often need to be
specialized for such an environment, that then becomes the "most ordinary
way" of running the specialized version.

My rule of thumb is that if you ever find yourself in a situation where
the technically ideal solution is blocked by software licensing, then
you're not dealing with free software.  This is my version of freedom 0.
(You could always get around software licensing by reimplementing the
software in question... but that's why I don't consider it free software.)

The GPL skirts the edge of this: for example, the requirement to
distribute source is ok because you can include a "written offer"
if there's no room for the source.  (Even this has its problems, though.
If you're launching an interplanetary probe that uses GPLed software,
do you have include a source CD?  Or carve the offer into the probe's
hull?  Every byte might count.  I'd go for the offer, and hope that
Martians will request the source so that we can make them pay for
the next probe.)

I think 2(a) and 2(c) go over the edge.  For 2(a), there are file
formats where it's difficult to add a change history.  People seem
to deal with that by ignoring it.  For 2(c), there are situations
where there's significant cost to displaying the notice.

Sorry for the length, this started out as a short note and then
I wanted to explain myself :)

> No, in the meantime PHPNuke should be moved to non-free, as it is not 
> free based on the author's statements of interpretation.  I'd further 
> claim that it's not GPL-compatible, as there are many pieces of GPL 
> software that it cannot be combined with and maintain the "page footer" 
> requirement.

Note that PHP-Nuke inherited its code from an earlier GPLed project.

Richard Braakman

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