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Re: Swiss Ephemeris Public License

On Fri, Oct 10, 2003 at 11:10:48PM +0200, Henning Makholm wrote:
> 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.

I personally consider that non-DFSG-free, under the theory that in
general, "your modifications" have pecuniary value, and you are
compelled to license your valuable modifications to the copyright holder
under terms other than those under which you are licensing them to the

Therefore, I see no fundamental difference between this clause and one
which insists that all modifiers pay a license fee to the copyright
holder.  Both cash and copyrightable modifications have pecuniary value.

Consequently, in my view, this clause fails the "freely modifiable"
requirement of the FSF's definition of "Free Software".

> > 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.

This is far too strong to be a disclaimer of endorsement, and in my
opinion erects an unacceptable ban on certain types of modifications,
violating DFSG 3.  You can't write an about box which lists the author's
names (unless, I suppose the about box scans the binary or license file
for copyright notices).  Forbidding people from duplicating references
to the work's authorship is unduly censorious in my opinion.

Furthermore, I think you're right, and this clause seems to forbid
exactly that (listing the upstream author in debian/copyright).  The
language is quite clear.  If we accept this as DFSG-free, then we should
probably also accept as DFSG-free license clauses that forbid the
licensee from publishing benchmarks or performance analyses of software.

Hmm, given this, I think this clause violates DFSG 9 ("License Must Not
Contaminate Other Software") as well.

I do not think this is a DFSG-free license.

G. Branden Robinson                |    The errors of great men are
Debian GNU/Linux                   |    venerable because they are more
branden@debian.org                 |    fruitful than the truths of little
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |    men.         -- Friedrich Nietzsche

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