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Re: RFC: Debian License Information on www.debian.org

On Fri, Apr 30, 2004 at 04:12:28AM +0100, Lewis Jardine wrote:
> >Frank Lichtenheld <djpig@debian.org> writes:
> >
> >
> >>I just completed the first version of these pages (loosly based on the
> >>pages of the security team), put them online and added a first
> >>license, OPL, based on the summary on debian-legal by Jeremy
> >>Hankins. You can find these pages on
> >>http://www.debian.org/legal/licenses/ (and every other mirror of
> >>course).
> >
Great work!

> ...
> As an aside, I expected the links in '_free licenses_, _non-free 
> licenses_, and _licenses that don't allow redistribution_' to link to 
> definitions of the categories (rather than the list of licenses); maybe 
> others might also make the same mistake.

How about putting such a (brief!) definition at the top of each
of the 3 lists (IANAL, IANADD, TINLA).

Text ideas:

[** means previous word should be a link]
[[]is formatting hint]

Free licenses:

Software under these licenses usually satisfy the legal
requirements for inclusion in Debian main**, specifically the
Debian Free Software Guidelines[Guidelines in bold] (DFSG**) and
its general interpretation**[links to DFSG FAQ] by the
debian-legal mailing list**.  However occasionally some software
under these licenses has other legal problems and end up in
non-free (or non-distributable) anyway.

Software with free licenses go to the alternative sections
contrib**, non-US** or non-US/contrib** if they are affected by
the applicable non-license issues (which are typically not
caused by the software author).

Non-free licenses:

Software under these licenses usually do not satisfy the formal
requirements**[links to above] for inclusion in Debian main**,
but does permit online distribution through the online Debian
mirror** network.  If such software is important enough for our
users**[link to social contract] we might include it in the
so-called non-free** section of the mirrors, which is not
formally part of the Debian distribution**[link to social
contract], but still easy to access by simply including the word
"non-free" at the appropriate place in the users
/etc/apt/sources.list**[link to example] configuration file.

Licenses in this category range from almost free licenses that
lack required freedoms only in a few ways to extremely non-free
licenses that take away almost all end user freedom except the
right to distribute the software on the Debian mirror network.

If a license only lacks a few freedoms, software under such a
license might go in main if the copyright holders add the
missing freedoms as additional permissions for that particular
piece of software.  Such permissions might go in the license,
the copyright notice, an extra file in the upstream source file,
a web page or an e-mail to debian-legal etc. and should always
be quoted in full in the file
/usr/share/doc/<packagename>/copyright file inside the Debian

Non-Distributable licenses:

Software under these licenses even fail to grant Debian the bare
minimum of permissions needed to distribute the software on the
Debian mirror** network.  This means that we cannot legally
distribute it even if we wanted to.  Typical causes for a
license ending in this category include: Simply not granting
permission to distribute, making distribution conditional on
things we cannot do (such as not distributing Linux), or
outright failing to be legally valid in some
jurisdictions**[link to the impressive mirror list] with Debian

[non-free license examples]

Another common cause of non-distributable software happen when a
single program combines parts under different free licenses**
that conflict with each other in some way that makes the
combination null and void.  This is the most unfortunate kind of
non-free software, all the parts are free** but we cannot ship
it no matter how much we would like to do that.  Such conflicts
can often be fixed by adding a permission notice**[link to
above] modifying one of the licenses so it no longer fails the
conditions imposed by the other licenses.

Examples and solutions:

BSD with advertising clause + GPL2**
OpenSSL + GPL2 (happens a lot)**
QPL + GPL2 (happened to KDE version 1)**

This message is hastily written, please ignore any unpleasant wordings,
do not consider it a binding commitment, even if its phrasing may
indicate so. Its contents may be deliberately or accidentally untrue.
Trademarks and other things belong to their owners, if any.

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