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Re: Monkey's Audio License Agreement

Ben Finney <bignose+hates-spam@benfinney.id.au> writes:

> For the purpose of context, we prefer the license text be posted in
> full in a message in the discussion thread. I've done so in this
> message.
> =====
> Monkey's Audio Source Code License Agreement
> License Agreement
> 1. The Monkey's Audio SDK and source code can be freely used to add
> APE format playback, encoding, or tagging support to any product, free
> or commercial.  Use of the code for proprietary efforts that don't
> support the official APE format require written consent of the author.

DFSG requires permission to make derived works, which is usually
interpreted as *any* derived work for *any* purpose. The gap here is
that there's no permission to use the work in a free software work
that is unrelated to "APE format playback, encoding, or tagging
support". Hence, fails DFSG §3, and possibly §6.

> 2. Monkey's Audio source can be included in GPL and open-source
> software, although Monkey's Audio itself will not be subjected to
> external licensing requirements or other viral source restrictions.

This is so ambiguous I can't discern what it's allowing or
forbidding. It's not clear whether this permits redistribution, and
there's no further permission elsewhere, so I have to asume there's no
permission to redistribute. Fails DFSG §3.

There is also no permission to redistribute a work under the terms of
*this* license. Fails DFSG §3.

> 3. Code changes and improvements must be contributed back to the
> Monkey's Audio project free from restrictions or royalties for the
> sake of the common good, unless exempted by express written consent
> of the author.

Fails the Desert Island test, and possibly the Dissident test, by
requiring any redistributor to contact a specific party unrelated to
the recipient of the redistributed work.

> 4. Any source code, ideas, or libraries used must be plainly
> acknowledged in the software using the code.

I can't see how this requirement could ever be met by anyone. "Any
... ideas ... used must be plainly acknowledged"!?

Probably prevents anyone from meeting the license => not useable at

> 5. Although the software has been tested thoroughly, the author is
> in no way responsible for damages due to bugs or misuse.

Disclaimer of warranty => fine, though perhaps overreaching what can
actually be disclaimed.

> 6. If you do not completely agree with all of the previous
> stipulations, you must cease using this source code and remove it
> from your storage device.

Goes beyond what copyright actually allows the holder to require; only
acts of copying and redistribution are within the purview of
copyright, so the holder can't demand that you remove the copy already

Anything that pretends to be an "agreement", that must be agreed to
before *using* the source code, renders the work non-free.

> All rights not expressly granted here are reserved by Matthew T. Ashland.
> - All materials and programs copyrighted ©2000-2006 by Matthew T. Ashland -
> - All rights reserved. -

It's not clear where the license ends; "All rights reserved" is in
conflict with all the other grants of permission in the license, so
should be removed.

> =====

Conclusion: This appears to be yet another invent-a-license with many
ambiguities and lawyerbombs. The author would be well advised to
simply license their works under an existing, well-understood and
peer-reviewed free software license instead.

 \             "I object to doing things that computers can do." —Olin |
  `\                                                           Shivers |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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