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

Hello debian-legal.

I don't know why, but Brian has been bothering me about claiming the QPL
is non-free. I agree with the emacs thing, and am working on a solution
to it when time permits, and upstream has also agreed to it in
principle, so this should be solved before the now imminent (whatever
this means for debian release cycle :) sarge release.

Anyway, it would rightly surprise me if the QPL would be reveled
non-free after all this years of use and the KDE controversy it was
linked to, and i believe that we have more than just ocaml as QPLed
programs in debian. So i request the help of debian-legal to help me
clarify this thing, and either make an official statement that the QPL
is non-free, or shut Brian up, and let me back to work on my packages.


Brian, no offense intended, please read below.

On Mon, Jul 12, 2004 at 08:34:53PM -0400, Brian Thomas Sniffen wrote:
> Sven Luther <sven.luther@wanadoo.fr> writes:
> > On Mon, Jul 12, 2004 at 03:37:02PM -0400, Brian Thomas Sniffen wrote:
> >> MJ Ray <mjr@dsl.pipex.com> writes:
> >> 
> >> > Brian, please do NOT start a one-man siege against all QPL'd
> >> > packages. Why not let the issues settle, build a rough consensus and
> >> > *then* bring it to the attention of package maintainers for
> >> > finalisation. I think trying to rush this through will almost
> >> > certainly cause you disrepute and might harm debian-legal if you
> >> > repeat it with other packages.
> >> 
> >> This isn't a one-man war.  I happen to have reason to extend the ocaml
> >> compiler, and so looked at the license.  I was horrified to see that I
> >> might have to send INRIA a copy if I made modifications, and that if I
> >> share them with my coworkers then I wouldn't be able to delete them
> >> just in case INRIA comes knocking.  So I filed a bug.
> >
> > Well, you don't like the licence, you don't extend the code, what is the
> > problem with that ? IT hardly makes it non DFSG free.
> That logic would justify "If you distribute the code, you must send
> the initial author $1".  That's certainly not free.  It would also
> justify "If you distribute the code, you must tell the initial
> author."  And that's not free either.

Oh, go bother someone else, and let me work on stuff.

Seriously, take this conversation away from my package's bug reports,
and into debian-legal. Once you reach consensus on it that the QPL is
non-free, i hope there will be a global announcement about this on
debian-announce, and then i will see what i can do.

I seriously am not in the mood of discussing this further, and would
much prefer to work on my packages than continuing such endless
discussion here.

> > And seriously, the QPL has been examined various times, and since
> > the Qt/KDE controversy brought it to the front lines, i doubt there
> > is much problems with it remaining. I also believe there are many
> > other QPLed packages in debian.
> >
> >> Then I went and caught up on debian-legal's activities of the last month.
> >> 
> >> Given that ordering, I can see how this might look like the first move
> >> of a one-man war.
> >> 
> >> > Sven, I think moreinfo is a good tag on this bug until debian-legal
> >> > settles (or fails to). I don't agree that unjustified wontfix and
> >> > wishlist settings are appropriate, though.
> >> 
> >> Either moreinfo or wontfix seem reasonable places to leave it for now.
> >> I don't see how any license which requires me to keep copies forever
> >> in case INRIA wants them can be free.
> >
> > Whatever, do you think the GPL is no different ? You have to give away
> > the source to whoever asks you, either immediately with the binary, or
> > during the next 3 years. Just give away the source with each binaries,
> > or keep an open CVS archive or whatever and everyone will be happy. But
> > then, you probably want just a free ride, as usual.
> I don't think you're understanding of the GPL is correct.  If I
> distribute code licensed to me under the GPL, I have to give source to
> that person -- but not to anybody else.  I certainly don't have to
> give the source to whoever asks me.  That's much more reasonable.

Well, you have no control over who this other person is giving the
source to. And i have been in this kind of things since 98 or even
earlier, and trough all the QPL/Qt/KDE discussions, so please, go inform
yourself and bother someone else if you fail to understand.

> > Now, the QPL has some point in common with the NPL and the APL and
> > whatever other such licence there is, and you have to live with that.
> >
> > The point is that you are free to modify the code and distribute it as
> > you wish, but you have to give this code back, not only under the same
> > licence which is the case of the GPL, but also give the code back in
> > such a way so that the upstream authors can incorporate it in a
> > separatedly licenced version of the same work. It seems to me this is a
> > fair bargain,
> It is a fair bargain, but it's not free -- and in the case of the

Whatever. Try to convince debian-legal of it, and not me. All further
communication from you on this subject that don't have the debian-legal
approval, preferable in a global debian announcement as this touches
many packages, will go directly to my spam box.

> private modifications I want to make to the Ocaml compiler, not one I

Well, if you make private modificiations, nobody will bother you about
it, most licences, including the GPL have restrictions only on the
distribution anyway.

Oh, hell i will prove this to you :

  3b. When modifications to the Software are released under this
      license, a non-exclusive royalty-free right is granted to the
      initial developer of the Software to distribute your
      modification in future versions of the Software provided such
      versions remain available under these terms in addition to any
      other license(s) of the initial developer.
So, if you don't distribute it, but keep it local to your harddisk (or
even local to your company), this can hardly be a "release". Once you
release it, then the upstream author can take it and incorporate it into
its tree.

And the one apparently bothering you :

 6. You may develop application programs, reusable components and other
    software items that link with the original or modified versions of the
    Software. These items, when distributed, are subject to the following
  6c. If the items are not available to the general public, and the
      initial developer of the Software requests a copy of the items,
      then you must supply one.

So, if you make a release that is not general, but limited to a small
group of people, then the original author can request you to to send him
a copy of the work, as you do to others, including source of the
modifications, and right by 3b. Also read the part about "when

The desert island thingy doesn't apply, as for all source code request,
you are free to charge for the data transfer cost, which may include
hiring an helicopter or a hydroplane, to go to you on your lonely island
and ask you for the source code and get it from you. The question would
be how upstream would know of it in these conditions, since you are not
forced to inform upstream of it.

> can make.  It is a bargain: I give something, the initial author gives
> something.  The GPL, in contrast, gives me the right to modify and
> distribute without me doing anything for the author.

Well, sure, which is why it is the QPL and not the GPL. Actually, i
believe that this kind of licence allows for further freeness than the
GPL, in a sense, since it guarantees that all modifications are not only
given to the recipients of the modified work, but also given back to the
upstream author, which will then make the community at large benefit
from it, if it is interesting.

You know, if you continue like that, you will end arguing that only the
BSDish licences are real free ones, since you can take everything, and
have no compuction ever to give anything back.

> > you get the free work of the upstream author to do with as
> > you please, but if you make modifications, you give them the chance to
> > use those modifications in a future version of the upstream work, and
> > since the ocaml package is dual licenced, one time as we see it, and a
> > second with some other licence to the members of the ocaml consortium,
> > something like the QPL is necessary to achieve that.
> >
> > Now, if you want to make modifications to ocaml, and keep them private,
> > you are free to join the ocaml consortium, and arrive to an arrangement
> > with them as to getting the code under another licence more suited to
> > your purpose.
> >
> > But please don't spam the BTS to make such selfish requests without even
> > bothering to consult past legal discussion about the QPL.
> It hadn't even occurred to me that there was software in the Debian
> archive to which I couldn't safely make private modifications.  The

Please reread the licence, all those clauses apply only if you make a
release, which doesn't include private modification, but imply
redistribution. There seems to be a grey area about using it between
various companies internally, and i don't even think this applies to
in-development distribution, as giving access to CVS trees or something
such, as this doesn't constitute a release in the software development
sense of it. But i would not bet on this, as the point 6. may cover

> idea that by combining my work with something from Debian, I might be
> legally compelled to release my work, which I want to keep private, is
> horrifying.

Well, welcome to the free software world. You real problem is that ocaml
is not BSDish, and that you can take it, modify it, and hoard it, or
sell it to someone else under your own licence and profit from it.
Sorry, but i guess such kind of behavior will get you no sympaty from
any free software supporter.

So, unless you have something obvious to say about this, or a "huh
sorry, i was wrong", please take this to debian-legal, as you should
have in the first place.


Sven Luther

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