Feedback on free software licence requested

Alex Hudson home at
Wed Jan 26 08:32:13 UTC 2005

On Wed, 2005-01-26 at 03:10 +0000, MJR wrote:
> Alex wrote:
> The proviso above is definitely not GPL-compatible, so in that sense the
> poster is correct (I would say it's an extra restriction to the GPL). I
> *suspect* some might even treat it as a non-free licence - for example,
> the QPL does roughly what you want (#3.b) and although the FSF consider
> it a free licence, others don't.
> I think you might be referring to debian?

I didn't think Debian had made up its mind on the issue.

> Well, there are a few nasties
> in how the QPL interacts with some contract law and there's the ability
> of the copyright holder to make licensees spend a lot of money defending
> themselves in court, but fortunately most use of the QPL is scuppered
> by misapplication of it or other practical problems.

These are all different problems to the #3b clause. I'm talking about a
clause which requires modifications to be distributed under a certain
licence. If it requires you to use the same licence as you received the
software, most people generally recognise that as being free. If it
requires you to use a different free licence, some smaller proportion
would see that as being free. If it required you to use a non-free
licence, most would probably think that it was non-free (since you no
longer have the right to share modifications, freedom 3).

I don't think any distribution has thought this issue through
sufficiently to have any policy on it, esp. where the effect of
selecting different licence effect is done via subclause - for example,
while the DFSG#3 says 'must be under same terms as original licence', it
doesn't say that similar clauses should be active also. Arguably, DFSG#3
was intended to block restriction on modification, which isn't
necessarily the case where you're being asked to make you derivations
available under a different free licence.

That said, it wouldn't surprise me if Debian or someone else decided
that different treatment clauses like that were not "free" at some
point, which was why I was warning the original poster that such a
clause might cause trouble later.



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