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Re: help with crafting proper license header for a dual-licensing project

On Sun, 27 May 2007, Francesco Poli wrote:
> On Sun, 27 May 2007 02:43:41 -0700 Don Armstrong wrote: 
> > On Sun, 27 May 2007, Francesco Poli wrote:
> [...]
> > > Whatever the its origin is[1], the term "proprietary" is now a
> > > well-established[2] word used as opposed to "free" (as in freedom).
> > 
> > And no, it's not a well-established word in that regard. Like many
> > terms in the Copyright/Trademark/Patent rights space, it gets
> > missused by people who are not familiar with it and haven't
> > bothered to consult a dictionary.
> If you consult a dictionary you won't find any reference to the FSD
> or to the DFSG in the definition of the adjective "free".

Of course, but the usage of free there is merely an extension of its
actual english meaning.[1] We use "free" in our conversations about
licensing and software because of the meaning that it already
posseses, not the other way around.

> Please bear in mind that we are talking about technical meanings
> that have to be defined in their field: a non-technical dictionary
> won't help.

The word "proprietary" has a perfectly well defined meaning in this
field. It means closed or exclusive. That people mistakenly conflate
it with being non-freeness has little to do with its actual meaning.

Things that are non-proprietary are perfectly capable of being
non-free. See for example the works in non-free for which we actually
have source code. They are clearly not proprietary, but are definetly
not free.

> I've sometimes seen the closed/open distinction used to refer to the
> availability of source code (which is a necessary, but
> non-sufficient, condition for freeness).

It can refer to that, but it can also refer to specifications,
standards, protocols, goods, etc. Exclusivity is nearly a synonym for

> I don't see the term "proprietary" as more confusing than "free".
> Once they are defined in the context of software freedom, they are
> perfectly clear to me.
> If, on the other hand, you insist that a dictionary must be
> consulted, then you will find many meanings for the term "free"
> (including "gratuitous"), none of which specifies which freedoms
> should be granted over a piece of software in order to call it "free
> software".

English has a great deal of words which have multiple definitions on
which generations of english speakers have agreed upon and/or abused.
The meaning of a word which has multiple definitions is generally
clarified from context, and if not, it's trival to ask.

What you're attempting to do is not comparable; it's inventing new
definitions for words which are not commonly or historically agreed

Don Armstrong

1: Not surpisingly, the meaning we use is actually the first meaning
in most dictionaries; gratis typically is found farther down.
The sheer ponderousness of the panel's opinion ... refutes its thesis
far more convincingly than anything I might say. The panel's labored
effort to smother the Second Amendment by sheer body weight has all
the grace of a sumo wrestler trying to kill a rattlesnake by sitting
on it--and is just as likely to succeed.
 -- Alex Kozinski in Silveira V Lockyer

http://www.donarmstrong.com              http://rzlab.ucr.edu

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