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Re: Serious doubts about the distributability of a file



On Mon, 7 Jan 2008 15:05:40 +0000 John Halton wrote:

> On Jan 7, 2008 1:38 PM, Vincent Fourmond <fourmond@gmail.com> wrote:
> > It seems to me that
> > the copyright notices conflict, and effectively render the file not
> > distributable, but I am not quite sure; if this file is effectively a
> > derived work from the work copyrighted by the Universtity of North
> > Carolina, it is not distributable. It all depends on the meaning of
> > "based on". What do you think ? What should be done ?
> 
> I agree that the notices are incompatible, but I think the problem is
> more fundamental. The big problem is in the licence terms for the UNC
> code:
> 
> >   Permission to use, copy, modify and distribute this software and its
> >   documentation for educational, research and non-profit purposes, without
> >   fee, and without a written agreement is hereby granted,
> 
> This limitation to "educational, research and non-profit purposes"
> makes the UNC code non-free. So if any UNC code is included in the
> file in question, then this makes the file undistributable in main.

Agreed.
But I think it's worse than that, see below.

> Probably OK in non-free given that Debian is a non-profit
> organisation.

Wait, wait: IIUC, we are talking about a work which is licensed
under the terms of the GNU LGPL v2 or later as a whole, but includes
code licensed under a non-profit-only license.

The two licenses are incompatible, as you noticed, hence the Debian
Project has no valid permission to redistribute the work, even in
non-free.  More precisely, in order to comply with Section 4 of LGPLv2,
the Debian Project should distribute the whole work under the terms of
the LGPL, but this is impossible without violating the UNC Chapel Hill
license.

Consequently, I would say that the work is legally undistributable
(regardless of the archive section Debian chooses to distribute from).


My usual disclaimers: IANAL, TINLA, IANADD, TINASOTODP.

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