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Re: Swiss Ephemeris Public License

On Sat, Oct 11, 2003 at 11:05:56AM +0100, Edmund GRIMLEY EVANS wrote:
> Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org>:
> > 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
> > community.
> What stops you from licensing your valuable modifications under a
> BSD-like licence so that everyone has them under the same terms?

There's a difference between "everyone" and "the copyright holder".

> > 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".
> Would you feel the same way about a licence that said that all
> modifications must be public-domain or BSD-licensed?

Public domain?  No, because that doesn't put anyone in a privleged

BSD-licensed?  Depends on to whom the license is granted.  If it's a
public license, then I see no particular problem, though it's a much
harsher form of copyleft than we're used to.

I think a case could be made that OpenSSL is in fact already under such
a license.[1]

> What about a copyleft licence that grants the DFSG-freedoms but gives
> additional permissions to Jehova's Witnesses (who happen to come to
> mind as they turned up at my door as I was typing this)?

The "additional permissions" test is only applicable if the license
without the "additional permissions" granted to a certain group or
individual is already DFSG-free, which is -- I submit -- not the case

If the "base license" is not DFSG-free, then the wrinkle that it's
"DFSG-free" only for a select group of people makes it fail DFSG 5 ("No
Discrimination Against Persons or Groups").

Freedom for an elite few is not freedom.

To boil it down a different way: compelling you to give something away
to the whole world[2] is DFSG-free; compelling you to give something
away just to me is not.

[1] Or maybe just a modified form that permits modification and
distribution under any BSD-compatible terms (which is a lot) *except*
for the GNU GPL.  OpenSSL's license appears to be motivated more by
ignorance of licensing and spite for the Free Software Foundation more
than anything else.

[2] in exchange for permission to use my work in ways not ordinarily
allowed by copyright law, of course

G. Branden Robinson                |     What influenced me to atheism was
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     reading the Bible cover to cover.
branden@debian.org                 |     Twice.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |     -- J. Michael Straczynski

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