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

On Tue, 29 May 2007 03:15:37 -0700 Don Armstrong wrote:

> 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.

I see what you mean, but free software is not completely unrestricted by
the will of its copyright holder(s) who can, for instance, prevent it
from being merged with non-free code (by choosing a copyleft license).
However, enough permissions are granted on free software, so that
everyone has the right to fork it and adapt it to his/her own needs,
even against the will of the original copyright holder, as I already
said before.
In this sense, free software is "exempt from subjection to the will of

In summary, I agree that the meaning of "free" in the context of
software freedom is an extension of the common meaning of the word, but
some interpretation and stretching has to be done in order to go from
the latter to the former.

> > 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.

Again, I cannot see the direct link between the word "proprietary" and
the concept of secrecy of source code.
Since I am not an English native speaker, it could be just lack of
English language knowledge.  Anyway, the Italian language has the nouns
"proprietario" (which means "owner") and "proprieta`" (which means
"property"): their definitions refer to the concepts of owning and
exclusivity, but not to secrecy...

> > 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.

I don't use it in that sense, you were the one who insisted on
consulting non-technical dictionaries and I simply did so.
The first common meanings of the word "proprietary" seem to refer to the
concept of property, owning, and trademark/patent/copyright.

> > > 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.

So, what's your definition of "proprietary software", then?
Software with source code kept secret?

> > 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.]

Just a nit-pick, not really interchangeably, because of semi-free
software.  I am deliberately neglecting semi-free software here.

> And frankly, even if they did, it wouldn't make their usage
> correct.

Of course, as I said, my reference to FSF terminology was done just to
show that I am not one who woke up early in the morning and came up with
a brand-new definition of "proprietary" in the context of software
My use of the term is similar to that of others.

I obviously agree that RMS saying something does *not* necessarily make
it true or correct.  I am *against* appeal to authority.

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


 Need to read a Debian testing installation walk-through?
..................................................... Francesco Poli .
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