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Re: Apple's APSL 2.0 " Debian Free Software Guidelines"-compliant?

Evan Prodromou wrote:

On Sat, 2004-06-26 at 17:23, Andrew Suffield wrote:

Where You are located in the province of Quebec, Canada, the following
clause applies: The parties hereby confirm that they have requested
that this License and all related documents be drafted in English. Les
parties ont exige que le present contrat et tous les documents
connexes soient rediges en anglais.

This seems a discrimination betwwen people and thus to violate DFSG#5
(No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups).

Nah, this is just a reference to a particularly stupid tenet of their law.
There's no requirement that contracts have to be bilingual nor in the
dominant language; just that both parties understand the language of the


In just about every legal system, there is a requirement that both parties understand the contract; a contract that one (or more :) parties could not have (That's "could not have", not "didn't") understood is unenforceable, by legislation similar to 'unfair contract terms' legislation.

The questions are, in my opinion,

1a: Does applying a 'choice of language' clause to everyone make a license non-free (or is it acceptable the same way a 'choice of law' clause is)? 1b: Is a 'choice of language' clause a NOOP? (is the choice of language clause implicit in the fact that the contract is only available in one language?)
2: Does applying a NOOP to a subset of people discriminate against them?
3: Does applying a Free term to a subset of people discriminate against them?

In my opinion,
1a - no: If a license is only available in one language, this limits the number of languages you can accept the license in to one. I can think of many other licenses that are in English only, and still considered Free. It may well be the case that there are Free licenses in French with no English version.

If such a restriction were non-free, 99.something percent of Debian would be non-free and need to be relicensed (a translation of a license to another language is effectively a different license as there is never a 1:1 correspondence between languages[1]), with potentially one version for every language in the world, and maybe even Klingon. In my opinion, this is absurd.

1b - maybe: If the legal text is in English, and it's the only one on offer, that's the language that the contract uses. In almost everywhere on earth, acceptance of a proposed contract written in English is an implicit acceptance that English is an acceptable language to use. Quebec may be the only place in which this is not the case, but it only takes one.

2 - no, though like most NOOPs it does make the license unnecessarily verbose. 3 - no: A license that discriminates against people or groups is otherwise DFSG-free for some people, but not for others (for example, a 'no commercial use' licence can't be used by enterprises, and thus fails DFSG #0 for these people). A license that is Free for some people, and also Free (albeit in a different way) for a particular subset is not non-free.

A contrived (and pointless) example might be the waiving of GPL 2c for charities (or Germans, or people with one leg): 2c is Free (though obnoxious), and the GPL is Free whether 2c is present or not.

A possible real-world example of 3 might be the 'don't use me in air traffic control, nuclear reactors, etc.' clause: It's Free to disclaim warranty, and it's also free to disclaim warranty, and explicitly warn the user that it is unsafe to use the software (the clause doesn't prohibit use, merely points out that it's a negligent thing to do.)).

[1] - http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLTranslations

Lewis Jardine

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