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Re: A radical approach to rewriting the DFSG

Henning Makholm wrote:

> I have been toying with the possibility of rewriting the DFSG such
> that it enumerates which things a free license *can* do, rather than
> just give examples of things it *cannot*.
Well, I like the approach a lot.

> I think that such a revision 
> could get the guidelines to be much closer to the *actual* practise of
> how we evaluate licenses than if we simply make local adjustments to
> the current DFSG. The downside is that the whole truth cannot be
> condensed into the "ten commandments" schema of the current DFSG.
> My results so far are at
>    <http://henning.makholm.net/debian/dfsg-bis.html>
> Comments will be appreciated - both about the general angle of attack,
> and about my specific draft. I have probably forgotten about a detail
> here and there.

Some nitpicks:

"A license text is a self-contained text that describes the authors' licence
grants. Short rationales such as the Preamble to the GNU General Public
License, version 2, are taken to be included in this concept. It is in
general a judgement call whether a legally irrelevant piece of text is
sufficiently related to the license grant to be piggy-backed onto the
license text in this way. "

I actually don't think the GPL Preamble is entirely legally irrelevant; it
would presumably color the legal interpretation of the GPL if a question of
interpretation came up.

"The license text itself may be excluded from the right to create derived
works.  (Several popular license texts explicitly forbids derivates of
 themselves. Debian strongly recommends that authors of license texts allow
them to be used by others for deriving license texts for their own works.)"

Typo, should be "derivatives", not "derivates".  But it would be better to
rewrite the sentence.

Also, it should be made clear that this exception does not apply to license
texts shipped on their own, rather than as the licenses for something.

Also, it's not just license texts which get a special break; other legal
recitations, sich as warranty disclaimers, are also allowed to be

..."A free license cannot require that the user notices the author prior

"A free license cannot require that the user takes any explicit action to
express agreements to its terms - even trivial actions such as clicking on
OK buttons."
Add clarification:
(The license can specify that exercising the rights granted by the license,
absent alternative permissions, will be interpreted as acceptance of the

"A free license cannot require that the user agrees to accept a specific
legal venue in the case that the author later decides to sue him."

Clarifications here about the exact meaning of 'venue' vs. 'law', etc, so
that the usual confusions don't pop up?

And a non-nitpick.

I would be quite comfortable allowing patent "retaliation" restrictions, but
only if they were very carefully tailored.  Specifically, license rights
must terminate only if the work is alleged to constitute patent
infringement (no action based on unrelated causes), and they must terminate
only for the person who alleged that it did (no harming third parties).

Well, these were just some thoughts.  Have fun with them.

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

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