Re: licence for Truecrypt
> Michael Poole wrote:
> First, Michael, thanks for your balanced response.
> > it is non-free to require a distributor to serve
> > copies of the work to third parties
> Well, conditions in Section 3 of the GPL v2 actually
> do require distributor to serve copies of the work to
> third parties.
That is one option; the GPL is clear that if you follow one of the
other options, you need not distribute work to third parties. I
*think* the intent of the TrueCrypt license was to provide the same
choice, but the wording is unclear.
> > Vagueness certainly can affect freeness.
> Yes, however, in this case it doesn't seem to.
One of the "DFSG FAQ" tests for freeness is called the "tentacles of
evil". It suggests that if a license's freedom depends on the good
will or reasonableness of the licensor, it is non-free. That is, if
some malicious actor could use the license to harass people or force
them to do things against the DFSG, the license should not be
At least in the USA, the rules of contract construction say that, for
standard form contracts, ambiguity is interpreted against the party
who offered the contract. I would hate to depend on this, though,
since it could end up being a question of fact rather than law --
meaning it might not be decidable before an actual trial in federal
> > Under which laws would distribution within a
> > corporate entity be treated as public distribution?
> Who knows? There are hundreds of countries. Laws in
> some countries may not allow a corporate entity to
> become a single licensee. In such countries, the GPL
> might fail in this respect (i.e., become a non-free
If there is no known country with laws like you described, there is
not much point in considering what those laws would mean.
> > it seems odd to address members at the same time as
> I don't think it's odd. If a license says
> "member/employee", then it clearly covers both members
> and employees equally. What's wrong with it? If I
> wrote the license I wouldn't devote one paragraph to
> members and another to employees if both paragraphs
> permit the same thing.
> > Is "A/B" the union or the intersection of the two
> If A is synonym of B, then B is redundant. If A is not
> a synonym of B, then A/B means A "or" B. In English,
> slash separates alternatives of a single syntactic
> (but not semantic) element.
What is wrong with your reading? Suppose one founds an organization
called the TrueCrypt License Abuse Organization. Its bylaws say that
a person becomes a member of the TCLAO by requesting the binary code
for a modified version of TrueCrypt -- for example, from an FTP or Web
server or from a retail store. This version was modified by the
organization's founder or some other member of TCLAO. Following your
argument, it seems the TrueCrypt license permits this and does not
require source distribution, making its copyleft conditions almost
> Also, from the GPL v2: "it is up to the author/donor
> to decide"
> As you can see, GPL v2 uses slash-separated
> alternatives as well. If I used your terminology, I
> would say "This is a lawyerbomb".
As MJ asked, do not quote things out of context. The only such use in
the GPL is in a paragraph that explains the reasoning of section 7; it
does not impose or state conditions of the license.