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Re: [vorlon@netexpress.net: Re: Bug#181969: [mdadams@ece.uvic.ca: Re: JasPer licensing wrt Debian Linux]]

On Fri, Jan 02, 2004 at 12:03:47PM -0800, Michael Adams wrote:
> This is one of the reasons why I object when people claim that JasPer
> is not free software.  Only the JPEG-2000 codec module has a usage
> restriction, not the JasPer library proper.  I could have released the
> JasPer codec modules separately from the JasPer library, but I simply
> do not have the manpower to do so.  (This would require more effort
> for multiple software distributions.)  The JasPer software may be
> JPEG-2000 support.

Even still it's unclear if the patent reciporicity clause is free or
not.  I believe the general agreement is that if they void the entire
license they aren't.  Yours gives you the right to void the entire
license.  So I think most people on this list would say even without the
codec your software isn't free due to clauses D and E.

> Although I wish that Debian could also benefit from the use of JasPer,
> I would like to note that many software projects (many of which are
> open source) have not found the compliance clause to be problematic.
> This is why I would like to understand better what makes Debian
> different from other projects.  Is this simply a religious debate
> (about what constitutes "free")?  Perhaps this is not the case, but
> sometimes, if I may be frank, it feels this way.

I think you're confusing project goals.  Debian distributes free
software.  The projects you have linked off your page are software
projects.  They produce software and distribute the software that they
produce.  That software then gets built and linked with other software.

Software projects goals are generally to provide software features.  The
user downloads and builds various libraries to achieve some of these
goals, many times these libraries are optional.  Outside of license
compatability many times these projects don't pay much attention to the
license.  We've seen on this list many times where software has licenses
attached to it that are simply incompatable or problematic with other
software they link to.

Debian on the other hand as one of their main goals is to distribute
free software.  To make it clear to everyone what that means the Debian
Social Contract and Debian Free Software Guidelines were written.  As
such it is a primary function of Debian to evaluate software licenses
and determine their compliance with these principles.

This is the difference in attitudes you're seeing.  The developers of
many of these projects are leaving it up to their users if they want to
agree to your license terms.  

Take the ayttm project.  JasPer is not required.  If you don't have it
you simply don't get the functionality it provides.  To my knowledge the
majority of binary packages of ayttm are not linked against JasPer
because of the license.  In fact the next release will have JasPer
support diabled unless you pass a parameter to configure to turn it on.

Citing the multiude of projects which have opted to provide support like
this in their projects clouds the issue of if the community thinks your
license is really acceptable.  A better question is how many binary
packages of your software are being distributed, how many of these apps
(at least that are open source) are shipping binaries linked against
JasPer, and how many of the users that are using your library are aware
of the license terms it is released under.

That's not to say that you have to agree with the interpretation of what
is an acceptable and not-acceptable free software license.  You're free
to license your software anyway you choose.  And of course Debian, and
other projects are free to reject it on this basis or whatever other
considerations are important for their project.

Ben Reser <ben@reser.org>

"Conscience is the inner voice which warns us somebody may be looking."
- H.L. Mencken

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