FSFE Newsletter - February 2014

Johannes Zarl jzarl at fsfe.org
Fri Feb 7 15:05:11 UTC 2014

On Friday 07 February 2014 15:17:39 Carsten Agger wrote:
> > The recommendation seems to imply that people who prefer or don't
> > object to non-viral free software licenses don't value software
> > freedom.
> It does not, I think.

The original blog post[1] by Matthew Garret does not imply this. Yet, the last 
sentence of the summary does:

>> If you value software freedom, FSFE recommends you not to sign agreements
>> which make it possible to distribute your code under non-free licenses.

While I do understand (and share) the Foundation's interest in ensuring 
permanent freedom of code, I think this sentence has unfortunate wording. If 
the first part of the sentence had been omitted, I would have no problems with 

I think the example of Qt (also in the blog post's comments) shows the 
subtleties of the whole thing and helps to illustrate the point I'm trying to 

- The CLA for the Qt project requires you to allow co-licensing the source 
under a proprietary license.
- The owner of Qt may make the entire Qt project proprietary by first 
releasing it under a BSD license.

This CLA clearly makes it possible to distribute your code under non-free 
licenses. OTOH, the KDE-Qt agreement includes a clause that effectively 
prohibits the owner of Qt from making the project more closed.

I think it's totally ok for the FSFE to make a recommendation against 
contributing to the Qt project -- after all the foundation is trying to fight 
the status quo.

However, implying that anyone contributing to Qt does not value software 
freedom seems like a comical statement at best.


[1] http://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/29160.html
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