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

On Mon, 28 May 2007, Francesco Poli wrote:
> On Sun, 27 May 2007 14:24:21 -0700 Don Armstrong wrote:
> > Of course, but the usage of free there is merely an extension of
> > its actual english meaning.
> A piece of free software is not "able to act at will", nor is it
> "exempt from subjection to the will of others".

The whole point of free software is that it is "exempt from subjection
to the will of others". Your will does not impeed what I am able to do
to Free Software, even if you hold the copyright upon it.

> A piece of non-free software belongs to a proprietor, in the sense
> that a monopoly over it is held by the copyright holder.

Proprietary software is typically non-free, but the converse is not
true. There are many pieces of software which are non-free but are
decidedly not proprietary. Consider any of the pieces of software in
non-free for which the source code is available.

> I still cannot see why "proprietary" should mean "with secret source
> code": its basic common meaning is "owned by a proprietor" and does
> not refer to closeness or secrecy.

If we are to use it in that sense, then it is completely meaningless
in this discussion (unless you plan on distinguishing between PD and
non-PD works) as every single copyrightable work has a copyright
holder, and is therefore owned by a proprietor.

> > Exclusivity is nearly a synonym for proprietary.
> Yes, exclusivity. When enough actions covered by your exclusive
> rights are permitted to everyone (as in Free Software), you have
> really little exclusivity left. That's why I don't think the use of
> the term "proprietary" as a synonym of "non-free" should be
> considered so strange or awkward.

Because proprietary works are a subset of non-free works, a free work
cannot also be proprietary. However, a non-free work does not
necessarily have to be proprietary. This is why you should not use the
terms interchangeably.

This is the same reason why we talk about Free Software instead of
merely talking about Open Source Software: a piece of free software
cannot be closed, but an open work does not necessarily have to be

> It's not me. I'm not trying to invent new definitions, as I am not
> the only one who uses the term "proprietary" as equivalent to
> "non-free". Many others seem to do so: one notable example is RMS
> and the FSF

Neither RMS nor the FSF use proprietary interchangeably with non-free
to the best of my knowledge. [At least, I've never heard RMS use it
that way.] And frankly, even if they did, it wouldn't make their usage

Feel free to provide citations to back up your claims, though.

Don Armstrong

Personally, I think my choice in the mostest-superlative-computer wars
has to be the HP-48 series of calculators.  They'll run almost
anything.  And if they can't, while I'll just plug a Linux box into
the serial port and load up the HP-48 VT-100 emulator.
 -- Jeff Dege, jdege@winternet.com

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

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