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Re: Contracts and licenses

Lex Spoon wrote:
> Brian Thomas Sniffen <bts@alum.mit.edu> wrote:
>>* A consideration: if the license document specifies consideration to
>>  the licensor, the license can't be free.
> More interestingly, the consideration might be really minor.  Suppose it
> says "you must email the author before distributing a modified version,
> provided that sending one email is free for you."  This is certainly
> annoying, but it's very minor and it seems to fit DFSG.

A requirement to notify the author, under any circumstances, is not
DFSG-free.  Please see the DFSG FAQ at
http://people.debian.org/~bap/dfsg-faq.html , particularly section 9.  A
requirement to notify the author via email has several problems:

* It discriminates against people who cannot send email, for whatever
reason.  See also the "Desert Island" test in the DFSG FAQ.

* It discriminates against people who cannot (or simply do not want to)
identify themselves (unless they have some sort of method to send
anonymous email).  See also the "Dissident" test in the DFSG FAQ.

* It removes the user's right to distribute private modifications (such
as writing a modified version of the software under a contract for a
particular organization).

* Arguably, if the email bounces, the right to continue distributing the
software is in question.

* If the requirement in any way implies that you must get the author's
approval, it is completely non-free, since you must have the right to
make any modifications, not just those the author approves of.  See also
the "Tentacles of Evil" test in the DFSG FAQ.

- Josh Triplett

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