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Re: DRAFT: debian-legal summary of the QPL

On Wed, Jul 14, 2004 at 07:52:14PM +0100, Matthew Garrett wrote:
> Brian Thomas Sniffen <bts@alum.mit.edu> wrote:
> >Matthew Garrett <mgarrett@chiark.greenend.org.uk> writes:

> >> But the QPL doesn't require that any changes include your name. It's
> >> possible to provide those modifications to the general public without
> >> being traceable. It doesn't seem any riskier to the dissident than the
> >> GPL's provisions.

> >The dissident test is not about protecting dissidents from their evil
> >governments.  It is about protecting them from copyright infringement
> >claims for sane things they did while in the grip of their evil
> >governments.  The QPL allows some evil government to come after the
> >dissident for failure to disclose his works when under their control.

Er, this quote from Brian seems to have turned the dissident test on its
head.  It's not about protecting dissidents from copyright infringement
claims at all, it's about protecting them from being *drawn and quartered*
by their government as a byproduct of complying with the license.  The
problem with the QPL is that it allows a government that monitors all
international correspondence to identify and murder those dissidents who
are complying with the license.

> The dissident test only makes any sense at all because it suggests that
> certain license provisions will result in bad things happening to the
> dissident if he complies with them. I am unconvinced that following the
> QPL's requirements would increase the risk any more than following the
> GPL's requirements. The GPL allows some evil government to come after
> the dissident if he thinks that it's too dangerous to give his source
> code to recipients of binaries.

Given the above, there is a big difference between communicating source
code to those you're already choosing to distribute binaries to given
whatever secure means you have, and communicating source code to an
untrusted third party.  I can't think of any danger arising from
distributing source with binaries that couldn't reasonably be addressed
by sanitizing the code in question to hide its authorship.  Copyleft also
doesn't concern itself with contributors being branded idiot programmers
based on the quality of their code, and I find this to be entirely

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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