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Re: Licences with mutually exclusive terms

MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com> writes:

> Is it true that a copyright licence with mutually exclusive terms are
> non-free?  Further, is a licence saying:
>    You may prepare, copy and distribute derived works of this
> software. However, you may not modify this work.

That is not mutually exclusive.  Copyright exists only on works in a
fixed form.   So, for example, it allows me to write a translation --
clearly not a modification, but is a derived work.  It allows me to
inspect the work and quote parts in my own.  Bug fixes might or might
not be allowed -- depends on whether you consider that making a copy,
which is then modified, or simply modifying the original.

> ...specifying mutually exclusive terms? What does it mean.

But in cases where it does happen, I think it's evidence that the
author doesn't fully understand the license he's writing.  The best --
only -- course for Debian is to not distribute the work at all.  It
might be possible to distribute it in non-free, if there's a clear
permission to distribute unmodified copies... but better safe than
sorry, I think.

> I am particularly interested in past cases; either discussions on
> debian-legal, or from the courts. I realise this may be off-topic for
> debian-legal. If I get replies off-list, I will summarise them.

This has happened to Debian before.  Usually, the upstream author is
contacted and the issue amicably resolved.  I can recall only one
case which remains confused: the Computer Modern fonts, which are part
of the TeX/METAFONT distribution.


> Many thanks in advance for any help,
> -- 
> MJR/slef     My Opinion Only and possibly not of any group I know.
> Please http://remember.to/edit_messages on lists to be sure I read
> http://mjr.towers.org.uk/ gopher://g.towers.org.uk/ slef@jabber.at
>   Creative copyleft computing services via http://www.ttllp.co.uk/

Brian Sniffen                                       bts@alum.mit.edu

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