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Bug#508468: ITP: ssreflect -- small scale reflection extension for the Coq proof assistant

On Fri, 12 Dec 2008 09:24:21 +0000 MJ Ray wrote:

> Stephane Glondu <steph@glondu.net> wrote:
> > * Package name    : ssreflect
> > * URL             : http://www.msr-inria.inria.fr/Projects/math-components
> > * License         : CeCILL-B
> RFC from debian-legal regarding the license:-

Better late than never, I am adding my own comments below.
As usual, my disclaimers are: IANAL, TINLA, IANADD, TINASOTODP.

>     Article 1 - DEFINITIONS
> Software: means the software in its Object Code and/or Source Code form
> and, where applicable, its documentation, "as is" when the Licensee
> accepts the Agreement.

This might seem to be an infinite recursive loop (software := software
+ documentation), but IMHO is not: it's just the definition of the term
"Software" (with the capital letter) as used in the license text, which
consists of software in source or non-source form, including
documentation, if present. 

> Source Code: means all the Software's instructions and program lines to
> which access is required so as to modify the Software.

Very weak definition of source code: if I write a program in C++ and
then compile it to an executable binary, is access to C++ code
*required* so as to modify the program?
No, it's not *required*, as I can always use a hexeditor and directly
modify the executable binary form.  It will probably be a pain, and I
would probably *prefer* editing C++ code and recompile, but... access
to C++ code is not really *required*!

For comparison, the GNU GPL defines source code as the *preferred* form
for making modifications, not the *required* form...

> 3.1 The Licensee shall be deemed as having accepted the terms and
> conditions of this Agreement upon the occurrence of the first of the
> following events:
>     * (i) loading the Software by any or all means, notably, by
>       downloading from a remote server, or by loading from a physical
>       medium;

This is problematic (as already pointed out by MJ Ray): the license is
considered to be accepted by anyone who merely downloaded the Software
from a remote server, possibly even before having the opportunity to
actually read the license text!

I don't know whether this is even legally enforceable: it looks really

Moreover, IMO, a Free Software license should not restrict use, not
even by insisting that users have to accept the license itself in order
to get permission to merely use.

> 3.2 One copy of the Agreement, containing a notice relating to the
> characteristics of the Software, to the limited warranty, and to the
> fact that its use is restricted to experienced users has been provided
> to the Licensee prior to its acceptance as set forth in Article 3.1
> hereinabove, and the Licensee hereby acknowledges that it has read and
> understood it.

It's not clear to me if (and how) 3.2 modifies 3.1(i)...

>         5.3.4 CREDITS
> Any Licensee who may distribute a Modified Software hereby expressly
> agrees to:
>    2. ensure that written indications of the Software intended use,
>       intellectual property notice and license hereunder are included in
>       easily accessible format from the Modified Software interface,

This restriction is even worse than the obnoxious GPL
display-notes-clause (GPLv2 clause 2c and GPLv3 clause 5d): it does not
even have an exception for cases where the Initial Software does not
display the notices...

This is a mandatory feature that must be implemented in the Modified
Software (even when it is not already present): I think it's a
non-trivial restriction on modification.  It could even fail to meet

>    3. mention, on a freely accessible website describing the Modified
>       Software, at least throughout the distribution term thereof, that
>       it is based on the Software licensed hereunder, and reproduce the
>       Software intellectual property notice,

This seems to be utterly non-free.
If I want to distribute the Modified Software, I have to write
something somewhere on some website!
I could even be unable to access the Internet, and just modify the
Software and want to give the result to other people (maybe on a
It's a significant restriction on modification and I think it fails to
meet DFSG#3.

> Where a Modified Software contains a Contribution subject to the CeCILL
> license, the provisions set forth in Article 5.3.4 shall be optional.
> A Modified Software may be distributed under the CeCILL-C license. In
> such a case the provisions set forth in Article 5.3.4 shall be optional.

I've not thought much about how these permissions impact on Free
Software license compatibility: maybe this clause creates a path to
convert to the GNU GPL, or maybe not.
Joe Smith elaborates on this in

>       11.5 LANGUAGE
> The Agreement is drafted in both French and English and both versions
> are deemed authentic.

Wow!  What happens if the two versions disagree?

> 12.2 So as to ensure coherence, the wording of this Agreement is
> protected and may only be modified by the authors of the License, who
> reserve the right to periodically publish updates or new versions of the
> Agreement, each with a separate number. These subsequent versions may
> address new issues encountered by Free Software.
> 12.3 Any Software distributed under a given version of the Agreement may
> only be subsequently distributed under the same version of the Agreement
> or a subsequent version.

Mandatory upgrade mechanism: a Licensor cannot choose to license
something under a specific version of this license without also
licensing under future versions.
Not a DFSG-freeness issue, but I would rather avoid adopting a license
with a mandatory upgrade mechanism: software authors, you have been

> 13.2 Failing an amicable solution within two (2) months as from their
> occurrence, and unless emergency proceedings are necessary, the
> disagreements or disputes shall be referred to the Paris Courts having
> jurisdiction, by the more diligent Party.

This is a choice of venue clause: such clauses have been discussed to
death on debian-legal.  My own opinion is that they are non-free.

> Version 1.0 dated 2006-09-05.

 On some search engines, searching for my nickname AND
 "nano-documents" may lead you to my website...  
..................................................... Francesco Poli .
 GnuPG key fpr == C979 F34B 27CE 5CD8 DC12  31B5 78F4 279B DD6D FCF4

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