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Re: DFSG#10 [was: Re: Draft Debian-legal summary of the LGPL]

On Wed, May 19, 2004 at 12:01:41AM +0200, Francesco Poli wrote:
> I'd say that sort of information shouldn't belong in the DFSG: IMHO it
> would fit much better in informative pages such as
> http://www.debian.org/legal/licenses/
> What do you think?

That's what a lot of people think.  It's unclear whether DFSG#10 says
[a] "these licenses always pass, regardless of the above" or [b] "the
above must be interpreted such that these pass"; neither are very good.
It probably originally meant "we think these obviously pass the above",
which became false as license evaluation evolved and became stricter.

Watch out before trying to get rid of it, though.  The GPL has some parts
that would fail the DFSG without using DFSG#10 as an escape.  For example,
the "date changes" restriction (2a) and "output a GPL blurb" (2c) would
probably both fail DFSG#3.

I don't like using DFSG#10 as an escape clause for "the GPL doesn't quite
pass, but we need it to"--but I think it would be much worse to lower our
standards when evaluating new licenses.  For that reason, I tend to prefer
[a] to [b].  [b] leads to slippery slopes, since it requires a weak
interpretation of DFSG#3 that allows those restrictions, leading to "those
are allowed; why not [my pet restriction]?"

(However, while [a] permits the LGPL--which is dual-licensed with the GPL--it
wouldn't allow other licenses derived from the GPL.  It would be strange
and inconsistent to reject a GPL-derived license that was only changed in
free ways, such as adding a "must change the name" clause.  So far, this
hasn't come up--I don't think anybody has actually brought a GPL-derived
license to d-legal that didn't violate the FSF's copyright.  Most people
really don't want to do that, anyway--it results in a copyleft license that's
incompatible with the GPL, and I suspect that would have linking consequences
that havn't yet been well-explored.)

Glenn Maynard

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