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Re: QPL clause 3 is not DFSG-free

Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org> writes:

> a. Modifications must not alter or remove any copyright notices in the
>    Software.
> This is fine, except that it attaches to modification and not
> distribution of modifications that do this.  We should encourage
> licensors to be more clear about this issue, and not attempt to restrict
> activities that should be protected under Fair Use doctrines.

Fair Use does *not* allow you unlimited rights to create derivative
works.  It might suck, but it just doesn't.  Copyright law restricts
copying and the preparation of derivative works, even if you don't
distribute the derivatives.

So I think it's perfectly reasonable to read this license as saying
nothing more than "modifications, insofar as they are restricted under
copyright law, can only be made under the following terms."

As long as the terms are themselves acceptible ones for free software
licenses, we're fine.

> This is a problem.  If you license your modifications under the QPL, you
> give the "initial developer" (often Trolltech AS) a special privilege
> that is not given to other parties, even if your modifications are so
> extensive and original that they merit independent copyright protection.
> (In fact, this special privilege is granted *only* in that case, for in
> situations where the modifications are so trivial that there is no
> copyrightable derived work, clause 3b is unnecessary.  In the U.S., at
> least, the seed of copyright can find no root in trivial
> modifications[1]).

Except the alleged discrimination (if it's really that) guarantees
that your modifications will be available under the free license.  So
this isn't really much wilder than the BSD license, although it is
kludgily expressed.

> I believe it is illegitimate and inimical freedom to grant special
> privileges in a license to a copyright holder that other receipients of
> a distributed work do not get, especially since the original copyright
> holder already has tons of rights that other receipients don't have.

Except the right that the copyright holder gets is simply the right
that *everyone* gets in this case.  

> If we were to replace "a non-exclusive royalty-free right is granted"
> with something else of value such as "a payment of US $1,000 must be
> paid"; "the title to the modifier's automobile, if the modifier owns
> one, must be signed over"; or "a perpetual, non-retractable grant of
> permission to engage in sexual intercourse with (1) the modifier, if the
> modifier is female; (2) if the modifer is not female, the modifier's
> nearest female relative aged 18 years or greater must be extended", then
> we all would certainly reject such a requirement as
> DFSG-non-free...wouldn't we?

I think the reason is that the "non-exclusive royalty-free right" is
precisely what the GPL already requires you to give everyone who comes
into possession of your changes.  


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