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Re: Swiss Ephemeris Public License

Scripsit "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar@debian.org>

> Nobody commented then and it looked ok to me however
> James rejected it with the following comment:

> > I'm a little concerned about the license on this software, in
> > particular, this phrase:

> >  "without any charge beyond the costs of data transfer."

> and suggested I seek clarification here.

As far as I can see, the license offer the choice of distribution of
modified versions under either clauses 3,4 or clause 6, where clause 6
is only available for certain restricted kinds of modifications.

Clause 6 is non-free according to the DFSG because of the phrase you
cite; it prohibits distribution for profit. It might be possible to
get the upstream author to clarify it a la what was done for the
Artistic licence.

However, clauses 3+4, which are more GPLish in nature, do not have
this particular problem. Clause 4b does contain "without any charge
beyond the costs of data transfer", but that applies only to delivery
of source code to people who have already received the binaries.
GPL #3(b) contains similar language for a similar situation. The
clause can be trivially satisfied by distributing the source *with*
the binaries, after charging as much as one likes for the binaries.

Since clauses 3+4 seems to be applicable to *any* kind of
modification, including ones where one could also choose to use clause
6, I conclude that the license in question does not have DFSG problems
with for-profit distribution.

However, clause 3(b) worries me a bit:

>      b. If modifications to the SE are released under this
>      license, a non-exclusive right is granted to the holder of the
>      copyright of the unmodified SE to distribute your
>      modification in future versions of the SE provided such
>      versions remain available under these terms in addition to any
>      other license.

I recall that we recently discussed whether such clauses are
sufficiently discriminating to fail the implicit "with no
consideration to the author" test of the DFSG. It eludes me what we
concluded, however.

> This license file and the copyright notices in the source files are the
> only places where the author's names may legally appear without specific
> prior written permission.

Hm - I wonder whether, if this is enforceable at all, it can be
interpreted literally enough to allow the upstream author to be
identified in the debian/copyright file, as required by policy.

Henning Makholm                              "En tapper tinsoldat. En dame i
                                         spagat. Du er en lykkelig mand ..."

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