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Re: Termination clauses, was: Choice of venue

Brian Thomas Sniffen wrote:
> Sam Hartman <hartmans@debian.org> writes:
>>Given the GPL we seem to have accepted the premise that a license
>>may require all modifications to be distributed under the same
>>license as the original work itself.
> That also seems like a reasonable conclusion.  An interesting
> corollary is that you can compel distribution to be under a more or
> less restrictive license -- imagine an interactive program which
> derives from a GPL'd library, for example, and see that it has a
> notice-preservation clause which was null in the original.

No, you must have the right to distribute the software under the same
license you received it under.  That one is spelled out clearly in the DFSG:
> 3. Derived Works
> The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must
> allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of
> the original software.

> So, for example, a license which was a copyleft, but granted a more
> liberal license for educational purposes would be Free.  The copyleft
> could even carry the requirement of the liberal educational-use license
> along.  That would still be free, I think.  I have some doubt about
> the requirement, but I *think* it's free.

Yes, I agree that it would be Free, if strange.

> The doubt comes from the idea that the license document grants me some
> particular license.  It's free to compel me to pass along the freedoms
> I had; it's not free to compel me to do other things.  I didn't have
> the freedom of the liberal, educational-use-only license, so I
> shouldn't have to pass that along.

If the original license said "GPL, but additionally MIT for educational
use, and you must grant the same two licenses", then you could pass
along the dual-licensed work under the same dual-license, and keep all
of your rights, even if you couldn't necessarily take advantage of the
MIT license because your use wasn't "educational use".

> On the other hand, we accept that in the GPL: I may have received an
> interactive program and not been free to strip out the notice at
> startup, but if I pass along just a library, then some later person
> can make an interactive program which doesn't have a notice.

That's an interesting point.  If you modify the program to be
non-interactive (with #if 0, for example), you can then remove the
notice.  If you then modify the program to be interactive again, nothing
obligates you to re-add the notice.

> I think those two cases have to be in the same class, and so with some
> slight reservation would call them both Free.

If you can pass along the same license, which is Free for all users and
more Free for some, then it is Free.  If you have to distribute under a
license that wasn't granted to you, it isn't Free.

>>The combined effect of these two statements seems to be that you can
>>create a license that grants extra permissions to some class of
>>people, even for all modifications that are distributed.  (I don't
>>think the QPL is such a license, but the reason it is not such a
>>license seems relatively easy to overcome.  It's still non-free for
>>other reasons.)
> To certain classes of people, yes.  I think that there are probably some
> exceptions, though.  I think the original author is probably one of
> these.  Hm.  Maybe if not combined with forced distribution at all,
> it's not that bad.  It's still not something I'm thrilled about
> releasing software under, but if I can make changes, give them to my
> friends, and ignore the rest of the world, I suppose I don't have to
> care.


- Josh Triplett

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