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Re: aspell with mutt



Stephen <dallan@rogers.com> writes:

> On Tue, Nov 25, 2003 at 11:41:34PM -0600 or thereabouts, Jacob S. wrote:
>> On Tue, 25 Nov 2003 20:39:28 -0500
>> Stephen <dallan@rogers.com> wrote:
>> 
>> > Well that's too bad, why now, has the license changed from before?
>> > 
>> > I happen to like Aspell much better, so hopefully you can clarify
>> > what's the issue with the Aspell license.
>> 
>> I'm afraid I'm not a wealth of knowledge here, but I noticed it in the
>> list of "Removed Packages" in the recent release announcement of Debian
>> 3.0r2 on the Debian-announce list. 
>> 
>> Looking at http://master.debian.org/~joey/3.0r2/ I notice it is actually
>> on the Accepted list, though they have this note with it:
>> "The license incorrectly says that it's LGPL but it is in fact a unique
>> license which is non-DFSG-free."
>
> OK, thanks for the info. Puzzling, that this is just coming to light now,
> as Aspell has been around for some time. It doesn't sound like the
> license has changed, just that it's being reinterpreted. :)

The problem with aspell 0.33 and earlier was that the aspell utility and
the aspell-en dictionary were distributed together in a single tarball,
so it was assumed that the entire contents of the tarball were under the
aspell utility license (LGPL).  However, when aspell 0.50 was released,
the aspell utility and the aspell-en were separated into distinct
tarballs.  When I was packaging 0.50 a little over a year ago, I noticed
that aspell-en actually had a unique license with wording that did not
comply with the DFSG.  However, the validity of the non-free license was
questionable since, at least in the US, wordlists are not copyrightable.
Furthermore, the questionable wording in the license was not actually
written by the author of the wordlist (someone at DEC, a US company),
but rather someone who had reused the wordlist and basically stated, "as
far as I know, you may use this wordlist for non-commercial purposes."
The original author probably never claimed a copyright because it wasn't
copyrightable in his or her country.

In my opinion, the only problem with the aspell package in woody was the
/usr/share/doc/aspell-en/copyright stating the license was LGPL when in
fact in was not.  I did not see any real problem with the terms of the
license.  However, the stable release manager felt otherwise and removed
the entire package from main.

However, since the removal broke a lot of dependencies in stable, aspell
0.33 will be reintroduced to main in 3.0r3.  To comply with the RM's
wishes, I'll have to find a way to replace the "non-free" wordlists with
the updated free version, but it will come back pretty soon, I hope.

-- 
Don't worry, it's *in*-flammable.

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