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Re: reiser4 non-free?

On Sat, Apr 24, 2004 at 02:40:13PM +0300, Sami Liedes wrote:
> [Cc:'d to the reiser4progs maintainers. Please Cc: me when replying,
> I'm not subscribed to -legal.]

> There has previously been discussion at least in April 2003 on this
> list about the freeness of reiserfs.

> It seems a further "clarification" has been added to the license (GPL
> + clarifications) in both reiser4progs and kernel-patch-2.6-reiser4
> since then. This is the section that has been modified:

> > Finally, nothing in this license shall be interpreted to allow you to
> > fail to fairly credit me, or to remove my credits such as by creating
> > a front end that hides my credits from the user or renaming mkreiser4
> > to mkyourcompanyfs or even just make_filesystem, without my
> > permission, unless you are an end user not redistributing to others.
> > If you have doubts about how to properly do that, or about what is
> > fair, ask.  (Last I spoke with him Richard was contemplating how best
> > to address the fair crediting issue in the next GPL version.)

> New here is the "such as by creating a front end that hides [...] or
> even just make_filesystem". The controversy last year was created by
> mkreiserfs printing an overly verbose (tens of lines of sponsor
> credits and other non-licensing information) advertisement when
> running from the command line and Mr. Reiser's assertion that removing
> it violates the GPL.

> To me, these new "clarifications" seem non-free. (IANADD, and I
> believe the other IANA* goes without saying. :-)

I agree that this is non-free.

> Another section has been added after the above one:

> > Also, a clustering file system built to work on top of this file
> > system shall be considered a derivative work for the purposes of
> > interpreting the GPL license granted herein.  Plugins are also to be
> > considered derivative works.  Share code or pay money, we give you the
> > choice.

> Surely a license cannot add anything to the set of derived works (if
> the other work is not derived, the license obviously doesn't apply to
> it and hence never gets to say it is derived; if it is, it is even
> without the license saying so). However I believe -legal has not
> considered text like this a problem before (I might be wrong though).

Authors of licenses frequently define many of the terms used within,
regardless of whether those terms have common meanings; it's a common
technique for avoiding ambiguities.  However, the GPL already refers to
"derivative works *under copyright law*", so this definition is in
conflict with the existing one in the license text; assuming it's valid
to override the GPL's usage in this manner, such a requirement appears
to be non-free.

It's possible, but unlikely, that the second paragraph you quoted would
be understood as merely advisory, and the courts would reject the
author's attempt to redefine "derivative work".  This isn't something
that Debian should count on.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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