FSFE Newsletter - February 2014

Hugo Roy hugo at fsfe.org
Fri Feb 7 14:43:27 UTC 2014

+ 2014-02-07 Fri 14:58, Fabian Keil <freebsd-listen at fabiankeil.de>:

> Fellowship of FSFE <fellowship at fsfeurope.org> wrote:
> > - Matthew Garrett criticised Canonical's contributor agreement[19].
> >   Other copyright assignment tools, such as FSFE's Fiduciary License
> >   Agreement[20] and the GNU Project's copyright assignment, enable
> >   developers to prevent their code from being used in non-free software.
> >   In contrast, Canonical's agreement explicitly states that the company
> >   may distribute people's contributions under non-free licenses. If you
> >   value software freedom, FSFE recommends you not to sign agreements
> >   which make it possible to distribute your code under non-free
> >   licenses.
> Is this recommendation, the reasoning behind it and the process
> that led to it documented somewhere?
> The recommendation seems to imply that people who prefer or don't
> object to non-viral free software licenses don't value software
> freedom.

Hi Fabian,

First, there's no such thing as a “viral” free software license.
This term does not mean anything legally, nor technically. It is
simply Microsoft-propaganda from the 1990s. If you are looking for
a more accurate term, simply state copyleft licenses, or if you
don't like the term for its need to be defined you can use
“hereditary” licenses, this is more accurate to what copyleft
licenses actually do. You can also use the liberal/protective
dichotomy which IMHO is quite accurate too.

Second, this is not about whether people prefer BSD/MIT-style
licenses or (A/L)GPL-style. This is about assigning your copyright
to an entity in a way that makes it possible for that entity to
decide on their own if they want to release as proprietary
software or not something that include your contribution. It may
very well be possible that the whole is never released as Free
Software at all, whether under a liberal license or under a
protective license.

Third, to answer your question, this was discussed many times
within FSFE, especially in the process that led to the FLA
http://fsfe.org/activities/ftf/fla.html years ago. 

As far as this bit in the newsletter goes, it was discussed
including in FSFE's legal team.

In this area, the goal of FSFE is clear: management of copyright
should always be done with Free Software in mind (whether BSD or
GPL, it does not matter). 

Hugo Roy, Free Software Foundation Europe, <www.fsfe.org>  
Deputy Coordinator, FSFE Legal Team, <www.fsfe.org/legal>  
Coordinator, FSFE French Team, <www.fsfe.org/fr>  
Support Free Software, sign up! <https://fsfe.org/support>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 490 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://lists.fsfe.org/pipermail/discussion/attachments/20140207/0bee9e70/attachment.sig>

More information about the Discussion mailing list