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Re: d-fsl - German Free Software License

* Martin Michlmayr - Debian Project Leader <leader@debian.org> [2004-12-14 20:55]:
> Definition as well as the DFSG and have asked for out input.  When we
> originally started the discussion, the license had not been published
> so I asked Don Armstrong and Matthew Garrett privately to comment on
> it.

I'll include Don's and Matthew's original comments below (with
permission).  Note that they came too late for inclusion in the
current version of the license but they will be considered for the
next revision.  We recently received a reply to Don's comments but
since I have not obtained permission to post them I won't include them
here (I just asked for permission to publish them, though).

Don's comments:

In section 2, part (4):

    Provided that you have received Documentation for the Program, you
    have to deliver this Documentation with the Program, as well,
    unless free delivery of the Documentation is not permitted by the
    documentation license.

This seems to indicate that the Documentation is a portion of the
program that cannot be removed for any reason, blocking the creation
of binary only packages, and separate documentation packages, or the
use of the program on devices where the documentation cannot be

This probably fails DFSG §3.

Section 3 part 3 which allows the license to be compatible with the
GPL is a bit strange.

I would suggest instead something like the following:

If you distribute or make publicly aviallbe the Program or parts
thereof in combination with another program licensed under the GNU
General Public License (GPL) and the Program when combined with the
GPLed program constitues a "derivative work" in the sense of section 2
b) of the GPL ("You must cause any work that you distribute or
publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the
Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to
all third parties under the terms of this License.") the Program is
then also licensed ("dual licensed") under the terms of the GPL
version 2 or later at your option.

[This gets rid of the necessity to munge about with changing reference
from this license to the GPL in source code files if you happen to
combine it with a GPLed work.]

Section 3 part 5 probably fails DFSG §6, since it appears to preclude
charging for the use of the program.

     (5) You may not charge any third party for the granting of the
     nonexclusive rights of use for the Program.

Section 4 does not limit the time that the Source Code has to be
available for someone who distributes Object Code. This would seem to
mean that Debian would have to keep track of every single source
version for every binary that we distribute. [I guess we do on s.d.n,
and it's probably a good idea, but I don't think the license should
require this... or at least, you should be able to get away with
offering the source at the same time as you offer the object code.]

In addition, what a "customary data carrier" means is kind of
strange. [I'd almost suggest taking a page from the GPL here.]

Section 5 has a bit of dissonance between contract acceptance and a
license agreement... which one are they actually going for here?

Shouldn't section 7 do the usual disclaimer of all warranties? part
(2) seems ok, but if I were using this licence, I'd like to see
something disclaiming all waranties unless a specific agreement exists
between the licensee and the licensor.

Section 8 part (3) should probably go away. While the DMCA and the ilk
is bad, since this license is a copyleft, real technical protective
measures would mean that you wouldn't be given the source. [See the
issues with the GFDL for examples of why this clause is probably not a
great idea, even though it means well.]

Anyway, with the changes and suggestions above in mind, it's likely
that this license can be turned into a free software license.

However, I'm not totally certain yet why this license should be
selected over the GPL for instance. If possible, I'd recommend that
software thinking about using this license that doesn't already use
the GPL instead of, or in addition to, this license.

Matthew's comments:

After reading it quickly, the first issue that comes to mind is that
the requirement to provide documentation could be a significant issue.
Regardless of any philosophical issues, if an application is provided
with GFDLed documentation, we have no right to remove the docs.

Martin Michlmayr

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