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Re: request-tracker3: license shadiness

On Thu, Jun 10, 2004 at 04:51:06PM -0400, Michael Poole wrote:
> # Unless otherwise specified, all modifications, corrections or
> # extensions to this work which alter its source code become the
> # property of Best Practical Solutions, LLC when submitted for
> # inclusion in the work.
> What is the impact of the third paragraph?
> I know it is not binding in the USA, since a copyright conveyance must
> be explicitly signed and must identify the specific works for which
> copyright is being transferred (17 USC 204 for those not intimately
> familiar with the US Code).
> Can Debian properly redistribute rt3 if rt3 alleges both distribution
> under the GPL and GPL-incompatible restrictions?  Does the fact that
> the restrictions are non-enforceable (at least in the US) enter
> consideration?

It is not just GPL-incompatible, it is non-free.

Your modifications, corrections, or extensions have value.  Best
Practical Solutions, LLC, is asserting ownership in something you have

This is no different from charging you money in exchange for the right
to exercise your freedoms under the license.

This clause violates the intent of DFSG 1, in my opinion.  "The license
may not require a royalty or other fee for such sale."  It does not seem
reasonable to me to assume that the license *may* require royalty or
other fees for other activities, apart from sale, normally protected by
copyright but which are part and parcel of software freedom.

It would not, however, surprise me if people voting in favor of proposal
D in the current General Resolution[1], didn't find a DFSG-violation
here.  Many of them don't seem to be able find a DFSG violation in
anything at all, because only those who are '"Holier Than Stallman",
i.e., the fringe fanatics.' really care about freedom.

IMO the author of request-tracker3 needs to be contacted ASAP and their
intentions confirmed.  It is possible this clause was inserted into the
license without its ramifications being properly considered --
particularly given that it is GPL-incompatible and RT is deeply
commingled with many Perl modules licensed under the GNU GPL.

[1] http://www.debian.org/vote/2004/vote_004

G. Branden Robinson                |
Debian GNU/Linux                   |           //     // //  /     /
branden@debian.org                 |           EI 'AANIIGOO 'AHOOT'E
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |

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