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Re: Final text of GPL v3

On Sun, 1 Jul 2007 15:41:49 -0700 Steve Langasek wrote:

> On Sun, Jul 01, 2007 at 12:22:08PM +0200, Francesco Poli wrote:
> > Clause 2c of GPLv2 is already an inconvenience and border-line with
> > respect to DFSG-freeness.  This is, at least, my humble opinion on
> > the matter.
> > "Border-line" does not mean that it *fails* the DFSG, but that it's
> > *very close* to fail.
> "Border-line" implies that it could go either direction.  This is not
> true. Regardless of how you feel about this clause, the GPLv2 is
> recognized as a free license under the DFSG.

OK, maybe I used misleading words (remember that IANAENS, I Am Not An
English Native Speaker).

What I mean is that, IMHO, clause 2c is a flaw of GPLv2.
Not a flaw which is bad enough to make the license fail to meet the
DFSG, but close to do so.

In this sense, it's "border-line": it could be or not be enough to make
the license non-free.  Upon careful analysis, it turns out to be close
to the DFSG-freeness boundary, but fortunately on the free side.

This is my own view on clause 2c.
IANADD, TINASOTODP (This Is Not A Statement Of The Official Debian

Because of this opinion I hold on GPLv2#2c, I see GPLv3#5d as something
It's the same requirement extended from interfaces that "read commands
interactively" to every kind of "interactive user interface".  Extending
a flaw is making things worse.

> > Extending this clause from interfaces that "read commands
> > interactively" to every kind of "interactive user interface" is
> > really making things worse, which is exactly what I commented.
> It is not a qualitative change.  I see no grounds for saying that it's
> worse than the existing clause.

It *is* worse: not qualitatively worse, but quantitatively worse.
Maybe it's not worse enough to become non-free, but it's worse anyway.

> > Compare with the obnoxious advertising clause of the 4-clause BSD
> > license: it's an inconvenience close to fail the DFSG, IMO.  But we
> > accept it as DFSG-free.  However, I would *not* be happy to see a
> > license that *extends* this restriction to a wider scenario.
> The 4-clause BSD is also not "close to failing the DFSG".


> to call something "close to non-free"
> is just an expression of your dislike for it, masquerading as an
> objective judgement.

Well, it seems that even DFSG-freeness judgements are not always so
objective, or otherwise we would not be discussing about them all the
time on this list...

> > Clause 2c of GPLv2 is close to fail the DFSG, but passes.
> > Clause 5d of GPLv3 is worse (since it's more restrictive, being
> > extended to more cases), and hence it's even closer to fail the
> > DFSG.
> There is no qualitative difference between the two clauses.  We have
> *never* treated quantitative differences between licenses as relevant
> to freeness. Would you claim that the GPLv2's "make the source
> available for three years" requirement is ok, but a clause saying
> "make the source available for six years" is not?

I think you are talking about clause 3b of GPLv2, aren't you?

Maybe you picked the wrong example, because clause 3b *is* a non-free
restriction.  Fortunately there's another alternative option,
represented by clause 3a, which is DFSG-free, and consequently GPLv2 is

This is my opinion, but also the opinion of other debian-legal regulars.

> I challenge you to offer a reasonable bright line test by which we
> would say the GPLv2 clause is free and the GPLv3 clause is non-free. 
> I believe you will fail.

Quite possibly I will fail.
That's why I pointed out clause 5d as a flaw, *without* saying that I
believed it was definitely non-free.
I said that it's "possibly a DFSG-freeness issue" and waited for other
comments (which I am already getting).

> > Whether it fails or passes is to be decided: I simply said
> > "possibly", you say it's OK.  Let's see what others think...
> Yes, let's.  Preferably others who are actually Debian developers,
> instead of non-DDs who discourage developer participation on
> debian-legal through the numerical superiority of their posts
> advancing outlandish interpretations of the DFSG that are untempered
> by such trifles as reality.

Feeling appreciated is always gratifying!

> > Mmmmh, if one cannot redistribute a work (because of patents or
> > whatever), I think it fails DFSG#1...
> > DFSG#1 says "The license of a Debian component may not restrict
> > DFSG#[...]",
> > so maybe one can argue that the copyright license cannot be blamed
> > for patent restrictions.
> > But DFSG#1 does not talk about "copyright license", merely about
> > "license".
> It talks about the license *of a Debian component*.  A patent license
> is not a license of a Debian component, it's a license to third-party
> "intellectual property".

Sometimes it's not third-party, but belongs to the same entity which
holds copyright on the work.

Anyway, I think I get what you mean: you see the software patent one as
an "external problem", not to be blamed to the work itself, and hence
not affecting the freeness of the work.  Just like a stupid law that
forbids the distribution of programs that lack a GUI, or something
similarly absurd...

According to this view, let's rephrase my comments on patent-related
clauses and just say "possibly an insufficient protection from patent
With the understanding that the GPLv2 is even less protecting against
those issues.


 Need to read a Debian testing installation walk-through?
..................................................... Francesco Poli .
 GnuPG key fpr == C979 F34B 27CE 5CD8 DC12  31B5 78F4 279B DD6D FCF4

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