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Re: Clarification regarding PHP License and DFSG status

On Sat, 24 Dec 2005 23:08:09 -0500 Glenn Maynard wrote:

> 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.

Well, DFSG#4 says, in part, that "The license may require derived works
to carry a different name or version number from the original software."
and then explains that this is a compromise and that all authors are
encouraged "not to restrict any files, source or binary, from being

I'm not saying that *any* restriction on modification is banned by the
DFSG, but restrictions in the directions depicted in DFSG#4 seem to be
allowed to a limited extent as a compromise, and discouraged at the same
time. So I think that going in one of those directions, and beyond what
is allowed by DFSG#4, should be considered non-free.

That's what I meant.

> (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.)

Don's statement seemed (at least to me) in agreement with my claims.

Don, could you clarify?
Apologies in advance, should I find out I misunderstood your words.

> > 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.

I'm actually trying to gain consensus by stating my reasoning on

> > 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?  :)

I'm sorry for the not-quite-short analysis.
The truth is: I tried to express myself with succinct arguments earlier
on this same subject and some people (most notably you!) seemed to miss
my point because I probably was not clear enough; so I tried to be a bit
more verbose (and maybe got *too much* verbose...).

> 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",

Even for something that is not actually, and never was, called Foobar?

> and annoying and borderline to say "may not contain
> the word Foobar".

I think that this is non-free.
We are talking about a license that forbids me to derive a modified
version of the work and name it "PHPng", "PHP++", "PHPlite", "microPHP"
You claim it's DFSG-free (even though "annoying and borderline"): would
it be DFSG-free to say:

 * may not contain the string PH ?
 * may not contain both letters P and H ?
 * may not contain the letter P, nor the letter H?

If you accept a restriction that forbids derivative names *containing* a
three-letter string, why not accept one that forbids names containing a
two-letter string?
Or one that forbids names containing two letters? Or names containing
one of two forbidden letters?

I'm concerned that accepting such a restriction ("may not contain the
string PHP") would lead us to accept any kind of restriction on
derivative names, which is more than annoying: it may make finding a
name for a derivative work nearly impossible...

    :-(   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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