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Re: [PHP-QA] Debian and the PHP license

Lucas Nussbaum writes ("Re: [PHP-QA] Debian and the PHP license"):
> On 30/07/14 at 13:09 +0100, Ian Jackson wrote:
> > Would it be possible for us to obtain some proper legal advice ?
> > Do we have a relationship with the SFLC we could use for this ?
> Sure, we could ask for advice from SFLC about this.

OK, good.

> > If so I would be happy to write up a summary of the facts and the
> > questions to put to our lawyers.  I think this is likely to be
> > straightforward but I would send a draft to -legal and ftpmaster@ to
> > check that the answer would actually resolve the problem one way or
> > another.
> I think that such a summary would be very useful, at least to increase
> the awareness about the issue, and to improve the description of the
> violation on ftpmasters' REJECT FAQ.


> However, based on my own (possibly limited) understanding of the
> issue[1], this is case of a license (the PHP License) with sub-optimal
> wording that is misused by third parties, as it was initially designed
> for PHP itself, and is used for random software written in PHP.
> As a result, the license adds some restrictions for derivative works
> that could prevent software under that license to meet the DFSG.

That is the contention of the critics, yes.

> So I think that it is important to distinguish between two different
> questions:
> (1) Is there a legal risk for Debian to distribute such software?

I would want to ask whether there is a risk for others, too.

> (2) Does the Debian project want to tolerate and ignore this sad
>     situation, or try to make the world a better place by working
>     on fixing this mess?

If we have a piece of legal advice which says that the risk is
minimal, then surely that would be sufficient to make the world a 

It would surely be nice to fix this wrinkle in the PHP licence but if
it doesn't actually meaningfully prevent anyone from doing anything
they would want to, then no-one's actual freedom is impinged and
reacting to it by throwing this software out of the archive is quite

On the other hand if it _does_ pose a legal risk, then a legal opinion
to say so would be very helpful in persuading the software's upstreams
that it needs to be fixed.

> When you have a summary and questions ready, we can work together on
> forwarding them to SFLC for legal advice.

I will get back to you.


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