[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: NEW ocaml licence proposal by upstream, will be part of the 3.08.1 release going into sarge.

Brian Thomas Sniffen wrote:
> Josh Triplett <josh.trip@verizon.net> writes:
>>Consider for a moment a license that said something like "You must
>>either distribute under this license with source, or under a proprietary
>>license without source.", (where the license is otherwise
>>BSD/MIT/X11-like, and with a definition for "proprietary" given
>>somewhere in the license).  This would be a form of "copyleft", that
>>requires derived works to maintain the "right" for _everyone_ to make
>>proprietary derived works.  I think such a license would still be Free,
>>albeit annoying.  For someone who only cares about Free Software, the
>>additional permission is useless, and only serves to allow others to
>>take the work proprietary.
> I have two interesting permissions with your license:
> 1) Distribute with source, passing this license along.
> 2) or under a proprietary license without source.
> I must have received the code under grant 1.  So the Free path is for
> me to distribute under grant 1.  If I received it under grant 2, well,
> then it's a proprietary license and we all agree I don't have free
> software.
> I have to pass along 2, but I have the right to take advantage of it
> if I like.  It's a grant of permission I have, part of the license I have.

True, but for the purposes of Free Software, you have freedom because
you have permission 1; permission 2 is irrelevant to Free Software, and
detrimental if you don't want your modifications taken proprietary.  To
use the "fee" argument, if you believe that a requirement to allow the
original author to take your changes proprietary is a "fee", then a
requirement to allow everyone to take your change proprietary is also a
"fee", and in fact a much larger one.

>>Now consider a similar license with one change: only the original
>>developer may release under a proprietary license.  Such a change
>>reduces the number of people who can take the software proprietary.  It
>>seems like if the case above is a Free license, then this one would be
>>as well, and would actually be preferable.
> This is not Free.  It gives these grants:
> 1) Distribute with source, passing this license along.
> 2) or, if you're Bob, under a proprietary license without source.
> Now I have only one grant of permission.  I have to pass along 2, but
> I don't get to take advantage of it at all.

I don't see how this makes it non-free.  You are distributing under the
same license you received the software under, so DFSG 3 is satisfied,
and you are not being discriminated against, since everyone has a Free
license, so DFSG 6 and 7 are satisfied.  (Note that saying everyone
doesn't have a Free license because of discrimination would be begging
the question, so you still need a non-DFSG6/7 justification for
non-freeness before you can argue DFSG6/7 on this basis).  Is there some
other DFSG point that this fails?  (Or some generally accepted
non-DFSG-based freeness test, for that matter.)

To look at it another way, the difference between this license and the
last is the removal of the right for all but one person to take the
software proprietary; since the right to take the software proprietary
is not something required for freeness (or even desirable), it seems
like removing that right should not change the freeness of the license.

>>Finally, it seems like this is covered by the DFSG FAQ
>>(http://people.debian.org/~bap/dfsg-faq.html) point 12e, which says that
>>it is fine for some people to have more rights than others, as long as
>>everyone has a Free license.
> That "as long as" is important.  It can be engaged in two ways.  If I
> say "GPL except for to Bob, who gets Nothing!  Nothing!" then that's
> not Free, because Bob doesn't have a Free license.

Agreed entirely; "as long as everyone has a Free license" implies that.

> If I say "BSD to
> teachers, GPL to everybody, and that pair must be passed along" then
> that's not Free.  The QPL says "BSD to inria/cristal, copyleft/patch
> to everyone else, and that pair must be passed along" -- that "must",
> that added restriction, is the non-free part.

I don't see why that's a non-free restriction.

Here's an interesting question.  The standard wording for GPL exceptions
includes the following text:
> If you modify this file, you may extend this exception to your
> version of the file, but you are not obligated to do so. If you do
> not wish to do so, delete this exception statement from your version.

Do you believe that such extra permissions become non-free if this
clause is removed, so that modifiers must retain the extra permissions?
 (Such a license would obviously be incompatible with the GPL, but
that's not relevant here.)  If so, why?

- Josh Triplett

Attachment: signature.asc
Description: OpenPGP digital signature

Reply to: