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Re: package astrolog

Thanasis Kinias <tkinias@kinias.org> writes:

> scripsit Ben Finney <bignose+hates-spam@benfinney.id.au>:
> > Like, say, putting the program on a storage medium and charging
> > people for it? Or charging money to install the program? Or
> > charging money to include it as part of a service?
> (1) I believe all these are fine.

Good. I hope upstream agrees with you, because that means there may be
hope to relicense the work so it actually does permit those acts.

> What's not fine with upstream is someone
> saying `want a copy of this package?  send me $20 by Paypal and I'll let
> you download a single copy -- but you can't use it on more than one
> machine'.  He doesn't mind the software being part of a business that
> makes money, but doesn't want it being made (what he sees as) non-free.

That's the classic description of a need for copyleft. You might
explain to him how the GPL achieves exactly this goal.

> It's part of the general idea of `do what you will with it, but don't
> make it less free than you found it'.

Yep, that's what a copyleft license like the GPL does.

> I agree that upstream's restrictions do not match with GPL, for
> example, much less BSDish licensing... but I'm not sure they make it
> DFSG-unfree.

Hopefully you can convince upstream that their stated needs are not
incompatible with licensing their work under the GPL.

> > That's a contradiction. "Charge money for the software" *is* a
> > field of endeavour, that in no way restricts the freedom of the
> > software.
> Is it?  I understood the Fields of Endeavo(u)r clause differently,
> based on the examples given -- viz., commerce and genetics.  I.e.,
> Free software can't restrict what type of work you use it in.

As I understand past decisions, Debian considers "make money by
selling the software to recipients" a field of endeavour under the

> > To deny the recipient the freedom to charge money is to make the
> > software non-free.
> Can we be more specific on this?  I ask that because -- as I
> understand it -- the crucial distinction is between (i) making a
> business out of using free software, such as charging for CDs,
> charging for services like installation, etc., and (ii) charging for
> the _software itself_.
> Upstream specifically agreed that (this being astrology software) a
> professional astrologer using the software as part of the service
> for which he charged money is OK.


> Charging for the software itself or its direct output (like
> redirecting STDOUT to a file and charging for the file) is what he
> considers putting further restrictions that violate his concept of
> keeping his work free.

The issue of charging for distribution of the software I've addressed

As for charging for its output, I don't think that is even reserved to
the copyright holder at all. Otherwise, no-one could legally
distribute any work created using a copyrighted program without some
explicit permission — which I've never seen in proprietary word
processor licenses, for instance.

The only case where "output from the program" would be covered by the
program's copyright would be if the output can be considered a
"derived work" of the program — in which case it's not the fact that
it's program output, but that it's a derived work, that invokes
copyright law.

I don't think that's the case for a program like astrolog, but I might
be wrong. In any case, attempting to restrict redistribution of the
program's output is trivially non-free.

> Or I may be able to remove the code that's under other people's
> copyright if I could get upstream to agree to a relicensing of his
> own code.  AFAICT what's under others' copyright is some specific
> functions which may be removable or replaceable.

I wish you luck with this endeavour. I once looked at astrolog with
interest, but its non-free license drove me away. It would be very
gratifying to see it released under a known free license like the GPL.

 \       "If consumers even know there's a DRM, what it is, and how it |
  `\               works, we've already failed."  -- Peter Lee, Disney |
_o__)                                                corporation, 2005 |
Ben Finney

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