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Re: Modifications under Different Terms than Original

Anthony DeRobertis wrote:
> [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
>> case.
> 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)
> vs.
>     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.

Actually, A violates the precise letter of the DFSG:
> The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must
> allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of
> the original software.

The MIT X11 License is not "the same terms as the license of the
original software", so clause A does clearly violate both the letter and
spirit of DFSG3.

> 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.

True; it also fails the no-discrimination requirement.

- Josh Triplett

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