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Re: why is graphviz package non-free?

Brian Thomas Sniffen wrote:
> Matthew Garrett <mgarrett@chiark.greenend.org.uk> writes:
>>Does anyone actually have any compelling reason for believing that the
>>literal interpretation is what was meant?
> I don't know what was meant, but I know what it should mean: imagine a
> work under a copyleft-like license, which insisted that all
> modifications and derived works had to be distributed under BSD-like
> licenses.  It's sort of a copywrong, since the original author can
> collect all the modifications and sell proprietary licenses to them.
> Should this be considered free?  I can't see it as free.  It's very
> clear that recipients are being charged for the ability to modify the
> software.  They aren't on a plane with the original author.  This is a
> root problem similar to that of the FSF's shenanigans with GFDL and
> GPL'd text, and the reason I object to their use of the GFDL: when
> only a copyright holder can do some things, that's non-Free.

If I interpret what you said literally, then *nobody* has the right to
take the code proprietary, because it must stay copyleftBSD-licensed.
There seem to be two possible cases in a scenario like what you suggest
could occur:

* If the licensor required copyright assignment.  This would permit the
licensor (and sole copyright holder) to take everyone's software
proprietary, regardless of what the license says.  However, the licensor
requiring such assignment in the license would certainly be non-free,
and if they do not, then they cannot compel you to transfer the
copyright on your modifications to them.  Therefore this case does not
seem to be relevant

* If this "copyleftBSD" license permitted distribution under either the
same license or under a non-redistributable proprietary license (with
various definitions for "proprietary").  In this case, there are no
actions which may only be performed by the original copyright holder;
*everyone* could take the code proprietary.  This license seems
obnoxious, but not non-free.

Is there some other scenario (or facet of these scenarios) that you had
in mind?

- Josh Triplett

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