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

On Tue, May 25, 2004 at 01:59:22AM -0400, Glenn Maynard wrote:
> On Tue, May 25, 2004 at 12:03:18AM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> > I don't think requiring a verbatim statement is "supporting
> > documentation" is any less obnoxious than requiring a verbatim statement
> > in "advertising materials".
> > 
> > Both could be wholly independently copyright works, and it is an
> > unreasonable arrogation of power over the work of others to attempt to
> > control their speech in this fashion.
> >
> > Any license that attempts to so is fatally defective from a DFSG
> > standpoint.
> This argument seems to apply to the X11/MIT license:
> "... copyright notice(s) and this permission notice appear in all copies of
> the Software and that both the above copyright notice(s) and this
> permission notice appear in supporting documentation."

Well, I interpret the "copyright notice(s) and this permission notice"
to mean the copyright statement and license terms themselves.

We generally don't have a problem with that.

> which requires that a verbatim statement ("this permission notice") be
> placed in supporting documentation.

We are required by copyright law to preserve applicable copyright

We're generally required to include license texts verbatim anyway, and
this is not inimical to software freedom as I understand it, because it
guarantees that the user understands what his or her rights are (or, in
the case of some works under non-copyleft licenses, which rights may
have been taken away).

I *do* see a difference between a license text and a disjunct
advertising clause like the original 4-clause BSD license's.

However, I would agree that even the MIT/X11 license is non-free if one
is compelled to include a work's copyright notices and MIT/X11
permission notice in works that are not derived from it.

The good news is that I do not know of any copyright holder, possibly
other than X-Oz Technologies, Inc., and The XFree86 Project, Inc., who
interpret the MIT/X11 that way.

There is even evidence that those organizations do *not* interpret the
MIT/X11 license that way, as each organization has promulgated new
licenses (the "X-Oz license" and the XFree86 1.1 License, respectively)
that add terms similar to the BSD advertising clause.

> This just seems like another case where normally free licenses can be
> interpreted in non-free ways: if "supporting documentation" is read as
> "in all documentation, even those you didn't write and don't distribute",
> it's not free.  (I've never heard of anyone doing that; I've always read
> it as "in the README, CREDITS or COPYING file".)

I entirely agree.  While it is true that any normally DFSG-free license
can be perversely interpreted, I know of no actually non-DFSG-free
application of the MIT/X11 license.

G. Branden Robinson                |
Debian GNU/Linux                   |           //     // //  /     /
branden@debian.org                 |           EI 'AANIIGOO 'AHOOT'E
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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