FSFE Newsletter - February 2014

Fabian Keil freebsd-listen at fabiankeil.de
Sun Feb 9 15:04:20 UTC 2014

Hugo Roy <hugo at fsfe.org> wrote:

> + 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.

> First, there's no such thing as a “viral” free software license.

You may not like the term, but this doesn't mean that it doesn't
exist: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_license

> 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.

This doesn't require copyright assignment, though. The same can
and does happen with what you refer to as liberal licenses.

Assumingly a lot of free-software-valueing people are fine with
this or they would have chosen different licenses.

>                                                           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.

Again, this doesn't require copyright assignment.

Even Matthew Garret only seems to be concerned about copyleft
licenses (and how Canonical defends the CLA):

| ... Canonical ship software under the GPLv3 family of licenses
| (GPL, AGPL and LGPL) but require that contributors sign an agreement
| that permits Canonical to relicense their contributions under a
| proprietary license. This is a fundamentally different situation
| to almost all widely accepted CLAs, and it's disingenuous for
| Canonical to defend their CLA by pointing out the broad community
| uptake of, for instance, the Apache CLA.

> 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.

Is the discussion documented somewhere?
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