[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Clarification regarding PHP License and DFSG status

On Sat, Dec 24, 2005 at 12:28:50PM +0100, Francesco Poli wrote:
> Yes, they are annoying.
> Worse: they are non-free.
> As Don Armstrong explained more clearly than I did: they are a
> restriction on derivative works (DFSG#3) not explicitly allowed by
> DFSG#4.

Again--this has been said too many times--merely being a restriction on
derivative works not explicitly allowed does not inherently make it
prohibited.  That's the hard-line interpretation: "no more, period, end
of discussion", but that's just not Debian's interpretation.  The GPL
puts all kinds of restrictions on modification and distribution which
aren't explicitly allowed.

Some people say "if it's not mentioned in the DFSG, it's never allowed";
say "if it's not mentioned in the DFSG, it's always allowed".  Both of
them are wrong.  The former is disproven by example--the GPL; the latter
would render the DFSG worthless.

(FYI, Don wasn't claiming either of these.  He was explaining how the
restriction being called non-free could be tied to the DFSG; that's not
the same as claiming it's non-free *due* to that.)

> > I've suggested in the past
> > that this feels non- free[2], but that's as far as it's ever gone.
> Why did you change your opinion on the matter?

I've never had a strong opinion.  There's a difference between "feels non-
free" and "is non-free".

> When applied to case (c), instead, it's not a name-change clause as
> allowed by DFSG#4 ("[...] The license may require derived works to carry
> a different name or version number from the *original software* [...]",
> emphasis mine): in case (c) we have a do-not-name-derivatives-like-that
> clause, which isn't allowed by the DFSG.

It's always been allowed in practice; the most common license that does
this being the original Apache license.  I'd suggest that you're making
a new claim about an old license clause, and that you're still early in
the "convincing others" phase.  So, I'd recommend not telling non-d-legal
people that a license is non-free and that action needs to be taken/not
taken (as you seem to be doing here, claiming the PHP license is non-free)
until you've brought the argument to consensus.

> The question is: how do name-change clauses work?

Sorry, but as we're still sort of in the "agreeing on exactly what it is
we're arguing about" step, can we keep the arguments succinct?  :)

What I find annoying is the "may not contain" nature of the clause.  I
think it's self-evidently DFSG-free for a license to say "may not be
called Foobar", and annoying and borderline to say "may not contain the
word Foobar".  If you're claiming the *former* is non-free, you're
making a pretty controversial claim and will have a lot of convincing
to do.

Glenn Maynard

Reply to: