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

Re: OFL license analysis

Mark Rafn <dagon@dagon.net> wrote:
This discussion seems to have gone into the weeds about WHY someone
would want to make a change and whether Debian is able to make such
changes reasonably.

On Mon, 30 Jan 2006, Frank Küster wrote:
Well, only in part.  A font that you can't rely on is mostly useless...

I assume the "you" in this sentence is a hapless user of a system whose software she does not control/understand, not the person wishing to make and distribute changes to the font. Correct me if this is an incorrect reading.

A license that tries to protect a user from an incompetent developer/distributor/sysadmin is going to be non-free. There's really no way around this. The only way to be free is to allow a true fork of the software, which means a dropin replacement, even if the licensor disapproves.

What ever happenened to the LaTex license, by the way?  That had the
same non-freeness.

You seem to have a different opinion on this as the debian-legal people
who negotiated with the LaTeX project and together developped the LPPL
version 1.3.  In this version, the requirement to change file names (or
LaTeX package names) was dropped, probably because it was regarded as
"too non-free", whereas it was decided that any changed version should
indicate that it was changed in the version string that is (or to some
degree only will be) part of the API.

Hmm. I claim that it is a mistake for Debian to consider something free if it requires binary incompatibility to distribute a modified version. Version strings are a funny edge-case, where if they're normally just human-readable information with no programmatic effect I can live with it, but when it becomes common to programmatically read them and behave differently, then it's part of the API and must be modifiable (or not) without restriction.

It's possible that Debian made a mistake if that's what LaTeX does with these strings. Wouldn't be the first time.

It seems a clear test: if I can't distribute a changed version that
can be dropped into a system without changing other software,
it ain't free.

You can never distribute a bugfixed version of a font with the same name
(identifiers, ...) and, without changing other software, get the same
system behavior.  That's not a question of freeness, it's a technical

No, the intent is to get DIFFERENT system behavior by changing the free component, without changing other software or documents. That's the freedom I'm worried about here. Though the ability to get the same behavior is there too (perhaps a performance fix or other result-compatible implementation change), it's just a special case of the real freedom to make changes.
Mark Rafn    dagon@dagon.net    <http://www.dagon.net/>

Reply to: