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Re: d-fsl - German Free Software License

We've seen worse. But this license sucks. Don't use it until it's been

On Tue, Dec 14, 2004 at 08:55:48PM +0000, Martin Michlmayr - Debian Project Leader wrote:
> Entitled Person(s): The author(s) or other 
> holders of the exclusive right to use for the 
> Program.

That's not even grammatically valid. I really don't think it means
what it says.

> Source Code: The form of the Program represented 
> in programming language and readable for humans.

I'm not going to quote all the rest, but this license (unlike the GPL)
genuinely only works for programs. That probably isn't a good idea;
it'll cause trouble for projects which are only partially program. I
can't see why they did this.

I think that projects with mixed program and non-program software will
be forced to convert everything to the GPL. I can't see any other way
they can work.

> Section 2 Obligations for Distribution and Making 
> Publicly Available
> (1) If you distribute the Program or make it 
> publicly available, be it in unmodified or 
> modified form, be it in combination with other 
> programs or in connection with hardware, you also 
> have to provide or include the following:

> 2. all references in the Source Code and/or 
> Object Code containing information about the 
> author of the Program;

Probably too broad; you could claim an awful lot of stuff fits that
description. This could be abused, allowing there to be things
released under this license which aren't free.

> (3) You may not make the use of the Program 
> contingent upon the compliance with conditions or 
> obligations that are not set forth in this 
> License. 

I can't see why this clause is in this section. It's got nothing to do
with distribution. And it seems like a really strange restriction. So
I'm not sure it says what they meant. Perhaps it was meant to say
"...make the modification and distribution of the Program..."? There
doesn't appear to be anything else saying this, and it's a necessary
clause for a copyleft license.

> (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.

I'm not even touching this one. It's an invariant section
clause. Abusing it will render the covered work non-free.

> (3) If you distribute or make publicly available 
> the Program or parts thereof - modified or 
> unmodified - in combination with another program 
> licensed under the GNU General Public License 
> (GPL), the Program may also be used under 
> conditions of the GPL, provided it constitutes a 
> "derivative work" together with the other program 
> in the sense of the GPL. In this case, any 
> reference to this License should be removed and 
> replaced by a reference to the GPL. Whether a 
> "derivative work" in the sense of the GPL arises 
> from this combination is primarily defined in 
> section 2 b) of the GPL. This provision reads: 
> "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 GPL 
> can be obtained under 
> <http://www.fsf.org/licenses/gpl>.

Assuming that this clause works as intended, we can always force
things under this license to decay into the GPL, so I'm not
desperately worried by it.

> (6) If you acquire any other intellectual or 
> industrial property right to this Program apart 
> from a copyright, in particular a patent or 
> utility model, you license this intellectual or 
> industrial property right for modified or 
> unmodified versions of the Program to the extent 
> that is necessary to make due use of the rights 
> arising from this License. 

At least they got something right. This is what anti-patent clauses
are supposed to look like (think about it, it works because this
clause is forced onto all redistributors, same as the GPL).

> Section 4 Further Obligations for the 
> Distribution of the Object Code
> (1) If you distribute the Program in Object Code 
> form only, apart from the obligations defined in 
> Sections 2 and 3, you have to either:

> 2.  distribute the Complete Source Code on a 
> customary data carrier, taking into consideration 
> Sections 2 and 3.

Could mean absolutely anything. This needs rewording. I don't have a
clue what they mean.

> (3) Provided that you have received the 
> Documentation for the Program, you have to 
> deliver this Documentation together with the 
> Program in accordance with Subsections 1 and 2, 
> as well, unless free delivery of the 
> Documentation is not permitted by the 
> documentation license.

Didn't we have this clause once already? Not sure why it's here again.

> Section 7 Liability and Warranty
> (1) The Entitled Persons are only liable for 
> conflicting third-party rights if they were aware 
> of such rights without informing you.
> (2) Liability for errors and/or other defects in 
> the Program shall be governed by agreements 
> concluded between you and the Entitled Person 
> beyond the scope of this License or, if no such 
> agreement exists, by the pertinent statutory 
> provisions.  

Yurgh. This may be sufficient for German law; I don't know. But do not
even consider releasing anything under this license if you are a UK
citizen; the choice-of-law clause doesn't apply because default
warranty is not a part of this license. Probably many other countries
have similar trouble. They really need an explicit disclaimer of
warranty here. Something along the lines of "Unless otherwise stated,
no warranty is given, not even..." will probably do the trick.

That's a real problem for contributors who live in other countries.

> (2) The license board of the German Free Software 
> License may put into force binding new versions 
> of this License inasmuch as this is required and 
> reasonable. New versions of the License will be 
> published on the Internet site <http://www.d-
> fsl.org> with a unique version number. The new 
> version of the License becomes binding for you as 
> soon as you become aware of its publication. 
> Legal remedies against the modification of the 
> License are not restricted by the regulations 
> described above.

This is not good. It allows them to terminate the license on demand.

  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
 : :' :  http://www.debian.org/ |
 `. `'                          |
   `-             -><-          |

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