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Re: Pre-ITP - LARN and Noah Morgan

On Thu, 25 Aug 2005 21:39:03 -0700 (PDT) Alex Perry wrote:

> I'd like to package the existing game "LARN" for Debian.


> Before I send out an ITP, I'd like to clarify one issue.
> The text below is what I'd currently put in "debian/copyright".
> Is this sufficient to enable addition into contrib or main ?

It's hard to say, let's see in detail.

> Nathan Tenny has the following note on a web page ...
> http://people.qualcomm.com/ntenny/larn.html
> > As an historical note: I've never really known anything
> > about Noah Morgan, the author of the original Larn and hence,
> > in some sense, the guy from whom I learned C. In looking
> > for the source code, I learned that he died in the late 1990s.

This makes things harder... as already said elsewhere in the thread.

> There are six known contributors:
> Noah Morgan	Original author of LARN
> Don Kneller	Port for DECRainbow and PC compatible
> Fred Fish	Termcap support for VMS port
> Daniel Kegel	Enhanced ansi terminal decoding for DOS
> Kevin Routley	Integration, enhancement and release
> Alexander Perry	Port for Linux 2.x kernel and GCC 3.x
> Fred Fish and Daniel Kegel included specific license text in
> their contributions that limit use to Personal, Noncommercial.
> The associated materials have been omitted from the Debian
> release so the remainder meets DFSG.  Consequently, anyone
> wishing to compile for DOS or VMS should not use this source.

This is fine.
Consequently we may consider only Noah's, Don's, and Kevin's
contributions (besides yours, of course!).

> In an email on Aug 15 2005, Kevin wrote to Alex:
> > I proceeded on the casual assumption that Noah Morgan
> > and Don Kneller would have no issues with changes
> > being made and posted. They posted to a public forum,
> > and I seem to vaguely recall that their licensing
> > permitted changes and redistribution as long as their
> > original copyright statements were preserved. I never
> > heard anything from anyone to the contrary, but that
> > doesn't mean that it was "OK".
> Accordingly, we believe Noah and Don's intentions met DFSG.

Well, this is not really enough, IMHO.
Posting to a public forum can mean you give an implicit license to
distribute *to the forum* (I would say).
But no license to redistribute is given to the general public.
Nor any permission to modify.

Compare with many websites that are publicly readable, but are "All Rights Reserved" (even when those words are not explicitly stated anywhere!): you really cannot grab parts of them and redistribute them (modified or verbatim), unless you have an explicit license.

The vague recall of a license, when no actual license is found in the
source archive, is not enough, IMHO.
At least, not if no external license text can be retrieved and
reasonably linked to the work.

Kevin himself admits that it doesn't necessarily mean it was "OK".

As said by other debian-legal regulars, you should contact Noah's heirs
and Don in order to ask them for a (DFSG-free) license.

It's seems not so easy (for Noah's heirs, I mean)...  :-(
May the Source be with you!  :-)

> Kevin's email described his own intentions:
> > I had every intention of distributing my changes to
> > Larn under the same conditions. I made every effort at
> > the time to document my intentions, but either that
> > was insufficient or you possibly have an incomplete
> > distribution, or more likely as you said the "rules"
> > have changed.

What "documentation" of Kevin's intentions is available nowadays?
I mean: can a license text, at least for Kevin's contributions, be
If this is not the case, you should ask Kevin for an explicit
(DFSG-free) license.

> Debian/Linux/GCC porting contributions are under modified BSD:
> Copyright (c) 2005 Alexander Perry <alex.perry@ieee.org>
> 3. Neither the name of the University nor the names of its
> contributors
>    may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this
>    software without specific prior written permission.

You should probably do a

 s/University/copyright holder(s)/
 s/its contributors/their contributors/

because you do not seem to be a University!   ;-)

Or maybe you could drop the third clause completely, thus ending up with
a 2-clause BSD license

    :-(   This Universe is buggy! Where's the Creator's BTS?   ;-)
  Francesco Poli                             GnuPG Key ID = DD6DFCF4
 Key fingerprint = C979 F34B 27CE 5CD8 DC12  31B5 78F4 279B DD6D FCF4

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