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Re: Contracts and licenses

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

I agree entirely, and I didn't mean to imply otherwise.

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

True.  Although they do occasionally have differences: for example, a
requirement to label changes with your real name and contact information
would only fail the Dissident test, not the Desert Island test (assuming
"third tree on the left" counts as contact information, or that the
requirement only needs a real name).

>>* 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 ...)

Emphasis on "private".  I don't just mean the changes themselves; some
companies and organizations don't want anyone to know what software they
are using.  (And yes, I was assuming a real requirement to notify the
author that you are using their software, not just that you must send
them mail.)

>>* 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.

Very true.  I was mostly looking at moral/ethical/legal issues of
Freeness, but that's a very important practial issue as well, and it
applies to many non-free licenses.

- Josh Triplett

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