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Re: Defining 'preferred form for making modifications'

Thomas Hood <jdthood@yahoo.co.uk> writes:

> License texts must be objective, fair and reasonably precisely
> worded if they are to be enforceable.

This is mostly true, but it is very important to understand that we
are talking about *legally* objective, fair, precise.  Such things as
"the preferred form" are very normal legal terms, with quite precise
standards to be applied.

> The question at hand is: In those licenses that dictate that the
> distributor of a binary must also distribute the source of that
> binary in "the preferred form for making modifications", what
> does 'preferred' mean?

"Prefer" is a perfectly normal English word, I really don't think it's
that ambiguous.  The preferred form is the form in which people
actually (REALLY ACTUALLY) prefer to make modifications.  A given
format might be preferred for one case, but the same technical format
not be preferred for another case.

The chief obstacle you point to is that we wonder "preferred *by

For the life of me, I cannot think of a case where the *real*
preferences would differ depending on who is being measured.  It seems
to me that *everyone* would prefer modifying the C code for Emacs to
modifying the assembly code.

Can you give a case where the alleged ambiguity actually comes up?

It's not "which form do you like most", or even "which form do you
prefer", but much more specific: "which form do you prefer for making
modifications", and the use of the passive, "is preferred", appeals to
a general practice for making modifications to similar works, which
general practice, in fact, really does exist.

> I suggested that the term be defined, roughly, as 'the form of the
> program available to the distributor containing the most information'.

If this form is really the one most preferred for making changes, then
you have changed nothing.

If it's *not* the most preferred form in any case, then why should we
accept it?


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