EUPL v 1.0 revokable ?
Xavi Drudis Ferran
xdrudis at tinet.cat
Tue Feb 13 15:06:59 UTC 2007
Hello. Argh. I've written too much again, i'll try to underline some
sections with "!>" so you can skip the rest:
!>I've read that a software license has been published by the EU
!>to cover software made by or for public administration that is
!>freed by EU governments.
!>I haven't found it at
!>An I've read the license, the preamble and the explanation on
!>the compatibility clause (without reading the reports it cites).
!>The license is all right with me, until I get to an strange
!> The European Commission may put into force translations and/or binding new
!> versions of this Licence, so far this is required and reasonable. New versions of the
!> Licence will be published with a unique version number. The new version of the
!> Licence becomes binding for You as soon as You become aware of its publication.
I've seen similar clauses in some propietary licenses (for demos or betas at least).
I'm not an expert on software copyright or licenses, but
I've never seen a free software license that can expire, and
as I see it, this clause means that the moment that the European
Commission changes its mind, I can lose my right to use , modify
or redistribute the software. I think the CEC has several means
to make sure that I (or anyone) is made aware of the change
of license (for instace with a certified letter, a visit by some
officer, or simply widespread propaganda, but in any case easily
done previous to a lawsuit).
!> That wouldn't be free software
I certainly have no trust in any license than can be so easily
revoked (and I suspect it wouldn't be DFSG either, but I haven't
checked and I have bad memory). Any investment in work or learning
with software that I don't know if it will be free tomorrow is
nearly wasted. I'm not sure it would be even legal to take
away the granted rights, but I've seen it in other licenses, so
it might well be.
I'm relieved to find that confirmed in the free software definition at
In order for these freedoms to be real, they must be irrevocable as
long as you do nothing wrong; if the developer of the software has the
power to revoke the license, without your doing anything to give
cause, the software is not free.
I could understand people who publish their software under GPL version
X only and those who trust FSF enough to publish under GPL version X
or later. But it's always version X or later as the user chooses, not as the
publisher or FSF chooses at a later moment in time, just by making
people aware of the change.
I also don't know whether this clause was already in EUPL v 0.2 or is new.
I hadn't checked v 0.2. Today's news just happen to reach me in a moment
I could spare some minutes to read the license.
I hope I'm missing something here and... well I don't know, maybe there's
some binding compromise somewhere that the EU cannot change the EUPL
to grant less than some minimum freedoms, come what may, or so, but I
don't see it. I know governments can change law and therefore can
take away freedoms even without changing the licenses in their software,
but well, that would at least require some legislative maneuvring and
some votes somewhere (just don't get me started on democracy and the EU).
Of course the same concern I have may be shared by any public administration
that the EUPL aims to serve. Will my local council use software by a
neighbour local council if the permission to use it may be revoked at
any time by the European Comission ? Will any business help my local
council adapt software under EUPL if their legal ability to conclude the
project is dependent on a change of political tides in Brussels ?
Is that sound policy ?
Just thought I'd ask in case someone here is aware and can clarify
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