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Re: The QPL licence

Glenn Maynard wrote:
> On Sun, Apr 25, 2004 at 12:08:54AM +0200, martin f krafft wrote:
>>I am working on it. In the mean time, let me present the authors
>>argument for the QPL. He is basically afraid of a fork, which he
>>argues is easier than cooperation. He's probably right. He wants
>>there to be one libcwd, and only one libcwd, and no "competition"
>>from projects building up on years of his work.
>>I can completely understand this line of reasoning, and I find it
>>hard to argue against that. If you have convincing arguments, share
>>them with me (or just post them here, I sent the thread link to the
> Freedom to fork is completely fundamental to free software; this is
> integral to DFSG#3.  Allowing other authors to "compete" using your
> source is also fundamental to free software.
> I don't quite understand this, though: the QPL doesn't prevent forking.  If
> it did, there would probably be a much more serious DFSG-freeness problem.

The QPL doesn't prevent forking, but the requirement to distribute
changes to the original source as patches makes a fork significantly
more difficult.  This restriction of the QPL is DFSG-free, but the other
restrictions, such as giving the author your changes if they ask, are
not DFSG-free.  Unfortunately, I don't know of a good example of a Free
Software license with a "patch clause".

>>You and I, we agree that the QPL should go away and be replaced by
>>a truly free licence. However, unless we find a licence that
>>accomodates DFSG-freeness and the author's wish for legal protection
>>against forks, it's going to be hard.
> These goals are completely incompatible.

Legal "protection" against forks, meaning a prohibition on forking,
would be inherently non-free.  However, it is quite possible for a Free
license to make forks difficult or cumbersome without crossing the line
into non-free territory.  Such a license is not ideal, of course, much
like the original BSD license is not ideal, but any Free license is
better than any non-free license.

>>I have proposed to him to consider creating a license of his own,
>>which would basically allow everything except the incoporation of
>>the code into another project with the same goals as libcwd. We'll
>>see what comes.
> This would be DFSG-unfree.

Agreed.  I think a copyleft license that included a "patch clause" would
probably satisfy the author while remaining DFSG-free.

However, it should also be suggested to the author that in the case of a
library, it is in his best interests to make his license GPL-compatible,
if he wants to encourage widespread usage.  Otherwise, any prospective
developers who want to use the library must either not use a copyleft
license, get all copyright holders to agree on an exception clause, or
simply not use the library.  Considering the sheer volume of GPLed
software, using a non-GPL-compatible license on a library seems likely
to discourage widespread usage.

- Josh Triplett

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