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Re: Question about a copyright file.

On Mon, 10 Sep 2012 16:16:58 -0700 Grant H. wrote:

> I was looking at the package yforth
> (http://packages.debian.org/sid/yforth) and looking at the license
> copyright file
> (http://packages.debian.org/changelogs/pool/main/y/yforth/yforth_0.1beta-23/yforth.copyright)
> and had a few questions.

Hi Grant,
here's a full quote of the license under consideration, for future

| Copyright 1996-1997 by Luca Padovani, <padovani@sti.uniurb.it>
| This software is FreeWare as long as it comes with this header in each
| source file, anyway you can use it or any part of it whatever
| you want. It comes without any warranty, so use it at your own risk.

> Is this satisfactory under the DFSG as free software.  My concern is
> that while it says "anyway you can use it or any part of it whatever
> [sic] you want."
> it doesn't say anything about copying the software.

I think the above-quoted license is extremely vague and ambiguous.
It's not at all clear what the term "use" is supposed to cover.

Is copying allowed?
Redistributing (gratis or in exchange of a fee)?
Distributing modified copies?

None of these activities is explicitly permitted.

As a consequence, this license does not (clearly) meet the DFSG.

I think that the upstream author should be contacted and persuaded to
re-license the work in a clearly DFSG-free manner.
My personal recommendation for a simple permissive and widely used
license that clearly meets the DFSG is the Expat license:

I hope this helps.


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