Ironies abound (was Re: GPL v3 draft)
Glenn Maynard wrote:
> I think you're the third person to say something along those lines: "be
> thankful, it could be a lot worse". It's still endorsing an extremely
> onerous class of restriction, implying that it's acceptable, helpful,
> and that the classes of application screwed over by it is unimportant.
> It's discouraging that people are thankful that's "all it is" ...
Steve Langasek wrote:
> I'm thankful that it's not *built into* the license in such a way that
> everything released under GPLv3 will have this issue. The FSF had a hard
> job of balancing quite a few disparate interests; it's to be expected that
> the resulting license would allow people to use it in some ways that Debian
> considers non-free, the good news is if it can also still be applied in ways
> that *are* free.
All these objections from Debian folks, and no one has yet noticed the
irony that the type of clause in question (the Affero language) has been
championed by the man who wrote the DFSG, Bruce Perens. Bruce repeatedly
called the ability to "publicly perform" a work derived from a GPLed work,
but not make the changes public, was a terrible loophole that had to be
fixed, and promised to lobby RMS to fix it.
(Affero clause = restriction requiring a facility to download source code
over the network).
That said, I'm glad that GPL v3 is not forcing this restriction into the
license; it has major problems. If I want a little bit of a large program
that has an Affero clause, and I want to use that bit in another program
that does not speak any network protocol, it appears I cannot do so
without violating the license. Adding a way to fix this would create a
loophole that would let hackers get around the language, so it basically
means that all derivative works have to be able to serve their own source
code over the net.
Should the Debian project make a stink anyway? Only if you also want to
make a stink about the LGPL, the X license, and every non-copyleft
license, because all permit a derivative work to add something like the
Too many developers of licenses seem to picture users making small
changes, instead of creating mashups that take bits of many programs to
make new ones. Free software licenses have to support that, and that's
one of the major difficulties of the GFDL even if the three major
objections Debian has made to it are fixed: sometimes you want to move
large chunks of program source code into documentation (especially for
class libraries) and license clashes are a problem. One of the nicest
things about GPL v3 was the effort that was made to make more licenses
compatible with the GPL. They pretty much had to do this by allowing
certain types of extra restrictions to be added. Debian can call some
types of restrictions non-free, of course.