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Re: Draft Debian-legal summary of the LGPL

Scripsit Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org>

> Not because the LGPL doesn't deserve a summary, but because it hasn't
> been done right.  The entire license needs to be posted and carefully
> scrutinized.

Well, exactly in the LGPL case we don't need to scrutinize the entire
license. We can do with noticing that any work covered by the LGPL is
effectively dual-licensed with pure GPL, so the freedom of the former
follows from freedom of the latter.

A detailed analysis of the GPL might be an interesting exercise. But
I'm afraid that it has several points where our best argument that it
is free is that it is explicitly grandfathered by the DFSG.

One could make a good case that our historical application of the DFSG
can be approximated very closely by the rule of thumb that we accept
any requirements found in the GPL (or one of the other grandfathered
licenses) as free, and reject every clause that goes beyond what the
DFSG requires of a distributor.

Of course there are a small number of buts here - most prominently (a)
the explicit patch rule in the DFSG, (b) that we traditionally accept
advertising clauses, but grudgingly, and (c) that we don't require
licenses to offer the "written promise valid for three years" option
if they require co-distribution of source with binaries.

> Furthermore, it might be wise if we only attempt to adjudicate licenses
> that are brought to us for consideration.  I'm not sure we should go on
> hunts for licenses to audit ourselves;

I agree that we should not try to audit licenses that do not apply to
any actual or intended Debian packages.

Not that it would matter much; if somebody really wanted to use
http://www.debian.org/legal as a platform for a personal vendetta
against a license - and he could get d-l to agree that the license is
non-free - then it would be a simple matter for him to let a proxy (or
pseudonym) file an ITP and formally request a summary of the license.

Henning Makholm                               "Hi! I'm an Ellen Jamesian. Do
                                        you know what an Ellen Jamesian is?"

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