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Re: Is the RAR archiver freely distributable?

(CC rar@p.d.o, the maintainer)

Ulrich Mueller writes ("Is the RAR archiver freely distributable?"):
> Since Debian also includes the rar package, I was wondering why and
> how you (or FTP masters?) arrived at that decision.

RAR is not part of Debian.  It is in non-free.  This means we do not
like its licence.

The ftpmasters have concluded that it is legally possible for Debian
to distribute what we have in Debian, and its Debian maintainer has
thought this worthwhile.

> In a nutshell, the preamble of the new license seems to transform it
> into a license agreement:
> | The following agreement regarding RAR (and its Windows version -
> | WinRAR) archiver - referred to as "software" - is made between
> | win.rar GmbH - referred to as "licensor" - and anyone who is
> | installing, accessing or in any other way using the software -
> | referred to as "user".

That doesn't seem very pleasant, but I don't think we have regarded
such things as a showstopper in the past.


> Also distribution has some new restrictions now, especially in clauses
> 3b (only distribution of the "original unmodified installation file"
> allowed, fees for distribution not allowed) and 3c (no bundling).

To save others finding the licence, here it is:


That licence is IMO clearly unsuitable even for Debian non-free.

| 3a. The software's trial version may be freely distributed, with
| exceptions noted below, provided the distribution package is not
| modified in any way

But we have of course modified it.

| 3c. The unmodified installation file of WinRAR must be provided pure
| and unpaired. Any bundling is interdicted. In particular the use of
| any install or download software which is providing any kind of
| download bundles is prohibited unless granted by win.rar GmbH in
| written form

It is not clear to me whether our distribution approaches contravene

| 3d. Hacks/cracks, keys or key generators may not be included,
| pointed to or referred to by the distributor of the trial version

We (Debian) cannot possibly agree to such a condition.  It may well be
violated in Debian (even in main) already.

> So what is your stance on the above license? Can the software still be
> freely distributed?

I think for Debian non-free we will probably want to stick with
5.3.b2.  Or maybe we'll just drop it.  We have properly free software
for unpacking rar archives, and producing rar archives is just
bolstering nonfree software.


Ian Jackson <ijackson@chiark.greenend.org.uk>   These opinions are my own.

If I emailed you from an address @fyvzl.net or @evade.org.uk, that is
a private address which bypasses my fierce spamfilter.

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