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Re: trademark licenses and DFSG: a summary

Gervase Markham <gerv-gmane@gerv.net>
> On 20/02/12 03:43, Craig Small wrote:
> > That all sounds like a good reason to reject this hypothetical package.
> > Retrospectively being able to change the trademark terms sounds like a
> > "tentacles of evil" problem.
> Surely only if the "remove the trademark now, please" command has some 
> effect on the functioning of the software?
> Imagine some software with a README which says:
> "This software and its derivatives are endorsed by Gervase Markham, 
> until such time as he withdraws that endorsement for a particular 
> derivative. If he does so and informs the maintainer of that derivative, 
> this paragraph must be removed from that derivative."
> Does the presence of those two sentences in a README make the software 
> non-free?

Yes!  Firstly, the paragraph should allow its retention with a
different name as the endorser.  DFSG 3: Derived Works.

Secondly, it allows retrospective amendment: I'm sure such licences
have been rejected in the past (often called the "tentacles of evil"
test).  Non-permanent licences that could start failing DFSG 1 or 3 at
an arbitrary-but-unknown future date are at least a practical problem
for stuff that has releases we want to archive forever.

This isn't the usual situation for "or any later version" licences
because there's the option of continuing with the current version.

So, as it makes it non-free, the rest of the posted argument fails.

Of course, we can make a free software version by removing that
paragraph on first sight.

> The first is simply a statement of fact. The second is a requirement for 
> non-misrepresentation, such as in a BSD licence. I don't see any 
> freeness problems with such a statement. You could argue it's a 
> restriction on modification, but it's not - you could, if you chose, 
> remove the sentence at any time. [...]

Removal is only one type of modification - a very destructive one at
that - whereas we seek permission to modify in other ways, except for
cases like the limited stuff in DFSG 4.

Hope that explains,
My Opinion Only: see http://people.debian.org/~mjr/
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