Ben Finney bignose+hates-spam at benfinney.id.au
Mon Mar 9 04:45:18 UTC 2009

"Andrés G. Aragoneses" <aaragoneses at novell.com> writes:

> Motivations
> -------------
> The main license we all know from the FSF is the GPL. It's good
> because it's open source

It's even better because it's a free software license :-)

> and "contaminates" the target software in order to conserve the
> freedom on derivative works. However, some other licenses very
> similar to this one have been created because other needs came out:
> * LGPL: less restrictive wrt the 0-freedom.

When talking about free software, freedom zero is the freedom to run
the work for any purpose, any way you like. What difference is there
between the GPL and LGPL with regard to this freedom? Or, indeed, any
of the four freedoms?

I think perhaps you means the Lesser GPL grants permissions
*additional to* the four freedoms: namely, the permission to derive a
non-free work from the LGPL work in the limited case where the
non-free work has a run-time link to the unchanged LGPL work.

> Some developers or companies don't mind if their libraries are used
> by non-free software.

The word “use” is very ambiguous when one is talking about program
code. Often it simply means “execute”. Here, I think you mean
“derive from in a run-time link relationship”.

> This is another way of promoting free software code, by promoting
> the usage and adoption, rather than avoiding the creation of
> propietary software.

The FSF doesn't see it that way: popularity promotes the code, but
that's of no value if it doesn't promote the freedom.

Rather, the FSF made the Lesser GPL as a tactical move, to allow free
software to be used in some common situations where the GPL would only
cause the work to be rejected in favour of an existing non-free work.

> * AGPL: more restrictive wrt the 0-freedom.

Here I think there is a case to be made. I'm not yet decided either
way, but I don't think this thread is the place to discuss whether or
not the AGPL restricts the four freedoms, so I won't.

> So, similarly to the AGPL case, there's another special scenario in
> which proprietary ISVs can take advantage of GPL/AGPL software
> without being forced to open their software.

Note that the cause of free software is *directly opposed* to the
operation of non-free software vendors. They have the same freedoms in
free software as anyone else, of course. But saying that such vendors
can take advantage of free software isn't going to be of special
interest for the purpose of promoting free software.

That doesn't mean it's of no interest for *other* reasons, of course.
But you explicitly wanted to have a license that is “blessed by the
FSF”, and I'm pointing out that the above benefit you state is null
as far as the cause of free software is concerned.

> It's another case of the need of having a more restrictive clause to
> the 0-freedom in order to avoid the expansion of non-free software:
> the non-linkable developer tools (by non-linkable I mean programs,
> as opposed libraries) such as IDEs, VCS, Installer Tools, Code
> Analyzers, etc.

You assert this as a need, but I don't see any support for the
assertion. Why is this a need *for free software*?

> b) People that think that the developer tools are fine using the
> GPL, because it promotes usage and adoption of free-software.

Rather, I think it's not the place of a copyright license to try to
restrict the product of using the tool. It would require an over-reach
of copyright that I think is quite inappropriate.

> The people on the group (b) is normally the people that would also
> think it's better to use LGPL for a library instead of GPL

I think people should have the four freedoms in every work, but I
don't think it's better to use the LGPL for a library instead of GPL.
So you may need to re-assess your model of people's positions.

> But not everyone thinks in the same way, and we need a more
> restrictive license for the people that don't prefer this kind of
> promotion.

I'm still seeing no support for the assertion of need for this extra
restriction on freedom zero.

> Method
> -------
> The mechanism to protect the developer tools here would be to add an
> additional clause that states that, if the DGPL software is used for
> aiding/helping/supporting the development of other software, and
> this resulting software is distributed in any form, it should be
> DGPL as well. (The 'D' stands for "Developer".)

I think this clause would be well outside the bounds of copyright law;
or, if it's not, it should be.

Copyright is *not* a tool appropriate for exercising arbitrary control
over recipients of a work; it is a tool for protecting *rights* of the
copyright holder. The further you get from reasonable rights of an
individual into affecting the lives of others, the further it goes
from a right of freedom toward a grant of power over other people.

Your proposed clause, as far as I can determine, is clearly an
exercise of power over others, and not a right that anyone should

> Benefits
> ---------
> If approved, we could see two effects:
> 1. Proprietary developer tools turn DGPL. […]
> 2. Developer tools, which are already GPL, switching to DGPL. […]

You don't give any support for why this would be in any way a good
idea, so I'm not seeing the benefit.

By framing two outcomes as “benefits”, you omit other possible
outcomes. Significantly, you omit the “the new license is not adopted
for any significant amount of works” outcome.

I don't see how what you're proposing advances the cause of free
software. I certainly wouldn't consider works licensed as you describe
to be free software, so wouldn't be interested in using them.

 \     “Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather |
  `\                                             straps.” —Emo Philips |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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