FSFE Newsletter - February 2014

Johannes Zarl jzarl at fsfe.org
Mon Feb 10 19:27:12 UTC 2014

On Monday 10 February 2014 13:52:11 Hugo Roy wrote:
> + 2014-02-07 Fri 16:05, Johannes Zarl <jzarl at fsfe.org>:
> > 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.
> No it does not, unless you think that FSFE is here talking about
> "agreements" that also include software licenses.

I think we are talking about CLAs, not software licenses.

Let me make my thoughts more explicit (keeping the Qt example from my mail 
from Friday):

Person A wants to contribute to the Qt project, and signs the CLA that allows 
Digia to have a dual-licensing with both GPL and their proprietary license.
Therefore the CLA makes it possible to distribute the code under non-free 
licenses. Therefore person A can not value software freedom.

> But that's
> actually wrong because you don't "sign" a software license. So,
> really, that sentence does *not* imply that FSFE says people who
> use liberal licenses like BSD do not value software freedom.

Actually, I agree with you there, but when I first read the Carsten's 
sentence, I (mis?)read it as "The recommendation seems to imply that people 
who don't object to [allowing] *non-free* software licenses [on their code] 
don't value software freedom" or something like that.

I guess I was preoccupied since I already was unhappy with that last sentence 
of the summary. I'm sorry I did not read Carsten's sentence properly.

> In case you misread the summary, which I think is good and does
> not imply what you think it does, let me re-state this clearly:

The summary (minus the last sentence) is good. I still think that last 
sentence has unfortunate wording. I hope I made my issues clear with the 
"Person A..." example above.

While the wording is, well, unfortunate, I did not want to express a general 
problem in the summary or the newsletter. I do enjoy reading it and appreciate 
the work that undoubtedly goes into it. The fact that we are disputing *one* 
sentence within the last half year or so that I'm on this list shows that the 
editors are *very* careful with writing the newsletter.

> FSFE does not say that non-protective licenses are not valuable
> for software freedom; nowhere.

Good. That was also my expression. That's one reason why I wholeheartedly 
support the FSFE.

> > 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 make:
> > 
> > - 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.
> You see, the problem with your example is that it's actually
> wrong.

How so?

> In case 2, what is “the owner of QT”? You say BSD. 

BSD is not a legal person, and thus cannot own anything. The owner (no quotes) 
is currently Digia, and was Nokia before that, and originally Trolltech. Since 
the agreement is binding to whoever buys the rights to Qt next, I thought it 
makes sense to refer not to Digia, but to the owner.

> So what
> you really want to say is: the licensee (the person who *receives*
> the software under the BSD license) can make the entire QT project
> proprietary, because the license is liberal about this.

No, I did not say this. (Currently) *Digia* can make the Qt project 
proprietary, but would in the process be required to license all code under a 
BSD license.

I'm boldly assuming that you did not read the comments regarding the use of a 
CLA within the context of the Qt project on the summarised blog entry. I'm 
therefore ignoring most of the rest of the mail.

> Depends on what "to QT" means. To QT the free software project or
> to QT the company releasing proprietary software?

Qt is the Qt project. There is no "QT the company".

> I think it's fair to assume that contributing to proprietary
> software (and *not* to free software) is not valuable to software
> freedom.

Well, that stands to question here. Qt is arguably both proprietary *and* free 
software. Your sentence is certainly true for the general case, but Qt is a 
corner case. Does the (additional) contribution to proprietary software 
*weaken* the value of the contribution to the free software?

-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 490 bytes
Desc: This is a digitally signed message part.
URL: <http://lists.fsfe.org/pipermail/discussion/attachments/20140210/3b5c4adf/attachment.sig>

More information about the Discussion mailing list