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Re: Contracts and licenses

On Tue, Jun 29, 2004 at 03:32:13PM -0700, Josh Triplett wrote:
> > 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.

> * 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.

I'd question whether "you must send a mail, but sending anonymously and
encrypted is OK" would make this type of thing pass the CD test, either.
If I'm under threat of death if the mail is discovered, I'm not going to
want to send it at all--I don't quite trust gpg and anonymizers with my
life, and a free license shouldn't force me to. 

This is why I tend to lump the CD test and the DI test together; they usually
have the same effect: no compulsory comunication.

> * 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).

Not really--you just mail the author, saying "I'm distributing a modified
version".  (Well, mailing him and saying "Hi!" would satisfy the requirement
suggested above ...)

> * 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.

There's also generality--if I'm using ten code snippets with such licenses
from different authors, I have to send ten such mails; if the kernel did
this, I'd have to send hundreds.

Glenn Maynard

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