Request for licence assessment: spellcast
Here's the entire debian/copyright file from the package (version 1.0-14):
This package was debianized by Ben Gertzfield firstname.lastname@example.org on
Wed, 23 Sep 1998 18:43:26 -0700.
It was downloaded from
The original paper-and-pencil version of this game was
created by Richard Bartle (email@example.com).
This implementation is by Andrew Plotkin
(firstname.lastname@example.org). It is copyright 1993 by Andrew
Plotkin. The source code may be freely copied, distributed,
and modified, as long as this copyright notice is retained. The
source code and any derivative works may not be sold for
profit without the permission of Andrew Plotkin and Richard
After discussion with Richard Bartle and Andrew Plotkin via email,
they decided it was okay to charge a nominal copying fee if Spellcast
was sold as part of a CD set. Here's the relevant emails:
Subject: Re: spellcast
Date: 06 Oct 1998 02:42:27 -0700
>The license of a Debian component may not restrict any party from
>selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate
>software distribution containing programs from several different
>sources. The license may not require a royalty or other fee for such
I have no problem with this. What I don't want is for some commercial game
company to produce a version of my game and not pay me royalties for it.
If it's part of a general collection of games, and it's OK by Andrew, then
his implementation can go on your distribution disc.
>I believe the intention of the license to Spellcast as it is intends to make
Yes, but the intention was that it be TOTALLY free. If people sell it for
profit, then it's not totally free; if they charge for it to cover
The problem that I have with this is that it doesn't allow commercial
redistribution - in practice, putting all of our CD vendors at risk of a
copyright infringement suit. I understand where the designer of the game,
Rickard Bartle is coming from - he doesn't want anyone to exploit his game
design to make millions for themselves without giving him a cent. But it
does mean that it's not free enough for Debian (IMHO).
Would anyone care to comment on my interpretation, specifically to support
or rebuff my belief that this licence is not suitable for inclusion in
Debian? I'd like more than my gut feeling before I file a serious bug
against the package and petition for it's removal from testing (to avoid any
more damage by not shipping it with Sarge).