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Re: Contracts and licenses

Josh Triplett wrote:
> 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:

Although I'd argue that the above-mentioned clause (as qualified) is a no-op
(if interpreted in a straightforward way).

Sending one email is not free for me, I pay $ per month to send email,
receive email, and browse web pages.  There may be no incremental cost
associated with sending one email, but there is still a cost.  (Therefore
it's not free, so I don't have to send one)

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

It can be assumed that it is not free (zero-cost) to send email from a
desert island, so DIians do not have to email the author.

> * 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).

Depending on what sort of email is required.  If "I'm distributing a
modified version of FooWare" is sufficient, then this is not an issue
(especially if anonymous email is acceptable).  On the other hand, accepting
anonymous email as fulfillment of this requirement makes it essentially a
no-op, since there is no way to correlate a particular act of distribution
to any particular anonymous email.

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

Right, here's the rub with my assumption:  This clause is a no-op iff you
still have the right to distribute if "sending one email is free for you" is
not true.

> * 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.

Right, but the clause (as written above) does not require approval, just
notification if "sending one email is free for you".


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