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Referencing the DFSG [Re: DRAFT summary of the OPL; feedback requested]

On Wed, 10 Mar 2004, Jeremy Hankins wrote:
> Don Armstrong <don@donarmstrong.com> writes:
> The interesting part of the claim in a summary isn't that
> restrictions on modifying make a license non-free, but that the
> license restricts modifying.  The summary doesn't describe the DFSG,
> it describes the license.

Obviously. But in describing a specific case, it's rather trivial to
say "This section restricts modification (DFSG §3)." This allows
others reading your arguments to recognize their foundations.

> You think that the sections of the DFSG provide a useful taxonomy of
> non-free licenses?

In some circumstances, yes. By seeing which clauses of the DFSG are in
violation, it becomes much easier for our ftp-masters to see if there
is something in the license that would restrict the work from being
able to even be redistributed in non-free, as an example.

Additionally, it helps others who are attempting to interpret the DFSG
to see licenses which have preiviously failed sections of it and
understand the line between Free and non-free.

> That would be very surprising, as I don't believe it was written
> with that in mind.

Works often end up in more than the role they were designed for.

> I guess we'd have to do a survey of licenses in order to have hard
> data to support or deny this idea.  But my sense (based on my
> experience reading d-l) is that useful categories of license tend to
> be largely orthogonal to the way the DFSG is split into sections.
> Licenses don't tend to neatly and simply fail some section of the

No, they usually tend to fail multiple sections, and get all sorts of
things wrong, some of which aren't even included in the DFSG.

> I think that the idea that the DFSG neatly and simply captures the
> ways that licenses can be non-free is very much tied to the idea
> that the DFSG could be used as a definition.

Obviously. But we're not talking about "capturing" here. If your
contention that a license is not free is based upon the DFSG, it
should state so.

> > There are licenses which violate specific sections of the DFSG. We
> > can use that information to compare licenses and become better at
> > interpreting the clauses of the DFSG in an appropriate manner.
> Can you give an example, or provide more detail? 

When I'm examining licenses that have a strange set of wording, and
seem to fail a particular portion of the DFSG, I often want to go back
and look through the discussion of other licenses with similar terms
that have also failed the DFSG.

That allows me to say "licence Foo has a clause with the same net
effect as license Bar which we found violated DFSG §6 for the reasons
we delinated in [debian-legal thread]"

Don Armstrong

Any excuse will serve a tyrant.
 -- Aesop


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