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Re: Maxmind GeoIP/Geolite license change

> On 16 Jun 2020, at 00:58, Mihai Moldovan <ionic@ionic.de> wrote:
> * On 6/15/20 10:51 PM, Michael Tremer wrote:
>> As you will have noticed, I am not an expert on licenses and have picked CC BY-SA 4.0 because I believe Maxmind’s database was licensed under this before.
> I'm assuming that your DB will not contain any content from Maxmind's DB? Hence,
> you just strove to stay compatible with the original content?

No, we did not copy anything from Maxmind. Neither data, nor any of the software.

The intention of using the same license was to be compatible with what Maxmind used to be compatible to. Let’s say if Maxmind’s old terms and conditions were acceptable for Debian, so should be our database.

Clearly we missed that goal, but I am happy to have this conversation with you guys to help us find a better license.

>> We can of course change the license and I am happy to take your suggestions. What I would like the license to be is the following:
>> * it should be free for anyone to use but not possible to sell the database
> That directly violates DFSG 6 ("No discrimination against fields of endeavor,
> like commercial use.")
> I understand your general intention, but it's a misguided one. It would
> essentially make the database unredistributable if charging a fee for the
> (re-)distribution, i.e., it couldn't be part of Debian media (CD-ROMs and the
> like) for which a fee is charged (even if that fee only covers media and
> distribution costs).
> In Debian context, such a license would be considered non-free.

I understand what you are saying. My email from yesterday was a short one sent from my sofa. So let me explain more…

I consider myself a great advocate for free software. Almost everything I do, and certain all I can, is free software - available for anyone to use.

This project however was a lot more work than we anticipated and there are some more challenges to come. We generate no income from working on this at all, but of course need to fill our own fridges with food every once in a while. I am not telling you anything new here and I do not want to moan. But in the past, we have fought legal battles (and were involuntarily dragged into them) where people took IPFire, rebranded it slightly and sold it as their own. That fight consumed a lot of resources on our side without any gain for the project. It brings down morale and brings many other problems with it, too.

So the intention is to do better here.

We have spent a lot of time on this and we do not want another Maxmind. I am not trying to make money with this project, but nobody else should be making that money either.

Since this is only a license - and people seem to rather ignore than follow these - there is no guarantee for us that someone does things that we do not want them to do. But in the end I have to protect my project and the other people working on this so that we can continue doing this.

I do not want this to be non-free, but I hope my point makes at least some sense.

>> * it would be nice to encourage users to give back to the project and help them to help us to improve the data wherever possible
> Such encouragements should be part of, e.g., a README file, but not part of a
> license. *Forcing* users to contribute back would likewise make a license
> non-free for Debian usage (since that would fail the Desert Island test).

Sorry for my noob question, but doesn’t the GPL “force” people to give back?

> Fortunately, you said "encourage", so that would be optional and hence good. I'm
> just pointing out that even ideas with good intentions (naturally improving a
> database is a plus for any user) can lead to software or data becoming non-free.

A license is just letters on some paper. I had my own software copied too often by too many people with bad intentions and I could not do anything about it without throwing more money and time down the drain.

So, I guess we can conclude that the CC BY-SA 4.0 option is definitely something that we would drop. Simply for that reason that it is too complicated.

I always assumed that any of the GPL licenses won’t be applicable to data (and only code). Can maybe brings some light into the dark for me?

Thank you all very much already for your comments.


> Licenses and their implications can easily become a double-edged sword. :)
> Mihai

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