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Re: QPL clause 3 is not DFSG-free

Scripsit Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org>

>  3. You may make modifications to the Software and distribute your
>     modifications, in a form that is separate from the Software, such as
>                    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>     patches.  The following restrictions apply to modifications:

> This restricts modifications to separate patch files.

So your complaint is that the comma after "modifications" makes it
possible to read the clause in an unreasonable way? Or if I
misunderstand you: which concrete action do you think the clause
forbid (which the DFSG requires a license to allow)?

The way you seem to be reading the clause does not make sense
internally. If we take the patch clause to apply to non-distributed
modifications, it reads

   You may make modifications to the Software in a form that is
   separate from the Software ...

However, a "modification" that is separate from what it modifies is
not a modification at all - it is just free-standing commentary. So
your reading implies that modifications are totally forbidden anyhow.

That would render the whole clause useless, and leave no way to build
the binaries built from modified sources that clause 4 explicitly
allows me to distribute.

> b. When modifications to the Software are released under this license, a
>    non-exclusive royalty-free right is granted to the initial
>    developer of the Software to distribute your modification in
>    future versions of the Software provided such versions remain
>    available under these terms in addition to any other license(s)
>    of the initial developer.
> 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,

Hm, you may be right here. It took me several reading to see what
you're getting at: That the initial developer wants the right to use
third-party modifications in releases under *different* licenses than
the QPL.

So if I write a patch for QPL-licensed software and distribute it, the
initial author may incorporate my patch in a version that they offer
dual-licensed bewteen the QPL and BSD licenses, whereupon someone else
can seize the BSD release of this new version and create a proprietary
modification of it by stripping all of the initial developer's code
and retaining only mine.

I agree that this is rather troubling.

> 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";
> Why, then, are the potential copyrights of free software hackers who
> modify QPLed works without value?

However, I don't think that this is the right argument. It could
equally well be applied to the GPL's demand that I allow everyone
the right to further modify my modified versions. This right of
further modification is not intrinsically without value either, but
we're happy about the GPL forcing hackers to relinquish it.

The difference between the GPL and the QPL is not that the right QPL
wants me to grant to the author is restricted to the author - after
all, if that were the problem, I could just choose to give identical
rights to everyone else. The significant difference is that the rights
the QPL author wants are more inclusive than the ones the GPL asks me
to give.

Hm, this analysis suggests that we should reject a license reading

  1. You may modify this software and give away patches or modified
     source, if you make your modifications available under This
  2. You may give away binaries built from modified (or unmodified)
     source under any license you chose.

because it prevents me from making modifications without granting
everyone the right to take them proprietary. However, it is hard to
pin this kind of unfreedom to a specific point in the DFSG.

Henning Makholm                          "- Or hast thee (perverted) designs
                                    to attempt (strange, hybrid) procreation
                              experiments with this (virginal female) self?"

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