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Re: Bug#227159: ocaml: Worse, the QPL is not DFSG-free

Brian T. Sniffen wrote:

>That is, I owe two fees to the initial developer of the software.  
>First, I give him a license to distribute my modifications in future 
>versions of the software, and to use that code in non-free derivatives 
>of the software.  Second, if he asks for it I also supply a copy even 
>if I have not distributed them to anyone.  This is a fee as described 
>by DFSG #1.

I think you would find it hard to gain consensus that "fee" should be
interpreted in this manner. The GPL requires that I provide either all
the source code, a written offer or alternatively information regarding
the written offer I obtained. A reading of "fee" that broad would cause
the GPL to fail on the same grounds.

>Additionally, 6b requires that I license my modifications to others 
>under a *more* permissive license than the QPL.  Those to whom I give 
>my items (presumably meaning my modifications) must be licensed to 
>distribute modified copies without charge, and the QPL imposes a 
>charge.  Since I can't distribute my modifications under the same terms 
>as the license of the original software, this also fails DFSG #3.

I think that it would be even harder to claim that "charge" covers this.

>On the other hand, perhaps my understanding of the DFSG is flawed.  
>I've CC'd this to debian-legal, in the hopes that they can clarify.

The main discussed issues with the QPL are:

1) It requires that distributed modifications be made available to
upstream if they request. This causes problems for people on desert
islands who want to distribute software and can't send changes upstream
- it also causes problems for political dissidents whose lives may be
made miserable if it's discovered that they're involved in the changes.

I think the first of these would be unlikely to result in successful
lawsuits, and the second of these seems unrealistic - an environment
where this is likely to happen is also likely to allow the authorities
to sieze the information by other means. My personal feeling is that no
actual harm is likely to be generated by this clause. A requirement to
publish your code on distribution would be more onerous and arguably
more dangerous, but that's not what we have here.

2) It requires that any lawsuits be settled in Oslo, rather than
locally. I have no strong feelings on this clause at present.

Matthew Garrett | mjg59-chiark.mail.debian.legal@srcf.ucam.org

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