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Re: QPL clause 3 is not DFSG-free

On Mon, Mar 17, 2003 at 02:29:12PM +0100, Henning Makholm wrote:
> Scripsit Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org>
> ...
> > 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
>      License.
>   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.

Isn't that the BSD license?
(minus the disclaimers and attribution).

LGPL permits this too (with a small limitation).

The GPL "or any later version" phrase allows the FSF to do this
by adding unpleasant clauses to GPLv3.

I don't think this possibility makes a program non-free, as long
as free copies remain free (i.e. there is no option for
retroactively revoking the license as is).

What is potentially unfree is, if any third party not involved
with a copy of the work can demand anything (another copy,
money, tax records...) from whomever created or is in possession
of that copy.  Such a copy fails the spirit of DFSG 7 (which
only talks about forcing people to execute a separate license),
which is the closest thing I kind find to a direct expression of
the desert island and Burmese dissident tests [1].


[1] I point to Burma because their freedom violations are the
subject of official international sanctions, and because free
software has been publicly mentioned as being used to smuggle
steganographic messages in and out of that country.  It is thus
a very real case, not just a hypothetical.

This message is hastily written, please ignore any unpleasant wordings,
do not consider it a binding commitment, even if its phrasing may
indicate so. Its contents may be deliberately or accidentally untrue.
Trademarks and other things belong to their owners, if any.

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