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, the term "proprietary" is now a
> > > well-established 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. 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
> 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
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
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