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Re: debian-legal review of licenses

On Sat, 24 Jan 2004, Daniel Quinlan wrote:
> However, while debian-legal is a useful forum for discussing the
> merits of licenses and possible incompatibilities, an outside group
> like Apache doesn't seem to be able to get a definitive opinion
> about licenses under development.

In this particular example, a few members of debian-legal were
actively involved in the discussions on the license list. Where
clauses existed that were likely to be considered as not DFSG free,
they were pointed out, and communicated.

Because the license was in flux, and was revised multiple times, there
wasn't a place for a definitive statement from Debian. You'll note as
well that there hasn't been a definitive statement (regarding GPL
compatibility) on the license from the FSF either.

> Specifically, I suggest:
>  1. a single place where review requests should be sent

That's generally debian-legal.
>  2. review requests are posted to debian-legal for general discussion
>  3. an official entity, either a committee or a trusted individual who is
>     able to gauge consensus sufficiently effectively assembles
>     discussion, drafts a response which can be posted here for review
>     prior to returning it
>  4. response is returned within 30 days of submission

Generally the drafters of the license need to participate in the
discussion. For most licenses it's pretty clear which clauses are not
DFSG free. In some cases, there are clauses which are controversial
with regards to their freedom. For these licenses, once the
controversial clauses have been identified, the drafters can either
fix them, or gamble that ftp-master or the Debian developers via GR
won't see a problem with the license.

Because -legal itself acts primarily in an advisory capability to
Debian rather than as an official mouthpiece of Debian, it cannot make
a definitive statement. However, with few exceptions, if debian-legal
identifies problems with a specific license, the problems exist.

Don Armstrong

Three little words. (In decending order of importance.)
 -- hugh macleod http://www.gapingvoid.com/graphics/batch35.php


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