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Modifications under Different Terms than Original (was: Re: why is graphviz package non-free?)

[Yeah, I haven't read -legal for a while...]

Glenn Maynard wrote:
On Sun, Jan 16, 2005 at 01:33:08PM -0800, Josh Triplett wrote:

If you can't release your modifications under the same terms as the
original, then it isn't DFSG-Free.

Indeed, I agree that it's extremely distasteful for a license to do this;
I'd never contribute to such a work.  I can't come up with any strong
argument of why it's non-free, though ("distasteful" really isn't enough),
and nobody else is doing so, either--the only argument I've seen is that
it's a "payment" to the upstream author, but that's not true in the above

I agree this seems quite distasteful. However, as you note, it doesn't seem like a payment to upstream. Let's compare two clauses:

    If you make modifications to this software, you must release
    those modifications under the MIT X11 License. (Clause A)


    If you make modifications to this software, you must assign
    copyright of those modifications to AUTHOR. AUTHOR grants everyone
    a license to use these modifications under the license this program
    is distributed. (Clause B)

Clause B, I think, we'd all consider a payment: In exchange for the privelege of making modifications, you must give the author something of value. However, clause A and clause B have the exact same effect, as far as what rights people have with the program, AFAICT. I don't believe two clauses which have the exact same practicle effect should have different freenesses. I think that while (A) does not violate the letter requiring no payment, it does violate the spirit.

In addition, I have one other objection: In setting a particular person (or company, or whatever) with special rights over the program, it discriminates, also in violation of the DFSG. Copyright law certainly gives the copyright holder more rights than anyone else; however, these clauses ensure that only a certain copyright holder --- the original's copyright holder --- can ever have that status, no matter how significant my patch.

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