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[vox-tech] [OT] The AFPL (was: some PDF problems: screen and printrendering do not match)
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[vox-tech] [OT] The AFPL (was: some PDF problems: screen and printrendering do not match)

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> the non-free version of GS (gs-afpl in Debian's package system)
> renders the PDF correctly. It is still non-free software, but has less
> onerous restrictions that Acroread.

I hope I'm not opening a can of worms, but after reading the AFPL, it
seems far from onerous.

Since moving from Davis, I'm beginning to see the evils of our society.
Smart, capable, inventive technological people remain disproportionatley
compensated for their brains and effort while stupid and petty people
who look good in business clothes and who know "business speak" get the
fruit of our labor.  Why is it that the people who work hardest get the
least out of their labor?  Our society is getting more and more
stratified between the haves and have nots.

Now what does that have to do with the AFPL?

Let's look at who likes and doesn't like the AFPL.

Debian-legal doesn't like the AFPL.  They say it's non-free.  But we
can't really listen to that group of bickering magpies.  They also say
the AFL and OSL are non-free too.

If the entire GNU GPL world magically converted to the OSL, the whole
SCO fiasco and the "Linux contains 999 potential patent violations"
claims would evaporate.  Can you imagine UnixWare without Apache?  The
AFL doesn't allow you to use someone else's code while you rape them in
court.  The AFL is more copyleft than Stallman's copyleft licenses!

Freshmeat thinks the AFPL is free:


It's also good enough for sourceforge:


However, it's NOT good enough for OSI.  But that's not surprising.
OSI's definition of open source was written by the same person who wrote
the DFSG.  He was probably one of the first people to belong to Debian

Now _why_ is the AFPL non-free?

Is it that you're not allowed to obtain the source code?  Nope.

   You may copy and distribute literal (i.e., verbatim) copies of the
   Program's source code as you receive it throughout the world, in any

OK, then.  Perhaps you're not allowed to modify the source code.  That
would certainly be non-free!   Nope.

   You may modify the Program, create works based on the Program ...

Well then, you can modify the source.  Perhaps you can't distribute the
modification?  Kind of like pine's license:

   ... and distribute copies of such throughout the world, in any

Well that certainly seems free.  Then what makes the AFPL non-free?

IANAL.  Far from it.  I hate legal things.  But AFAICT, these are the
two things that make the AFPL non-free:

   Distribution of the Program or any work based on the Program by a
   commercial organization to any third party is prohibited if any payment
   is made in connection with such distribution, whether directly (as in
   payment for a copy of the Program) or indirectly (as in payment for some
   service related to the Program, or payment for some product or service
   that includes a copy of the Program "without charge"; these are only
   examples, and not an exhaustive enumeration of prohibited activities).

Let me sum the paragraph up in two sentences:

   1. If you're a business, you can't charge people for the software.

   2. Unless you're the author of the software.

But even here, the interpretation of the paragraph is very broad in the
"good" direction.  For example, you may charge for a magazine that has
the licensed work on an included CDROM.

You may be starting to see the connection with my first paragraph.  This
paragraph may also be considered non-free:

   If the distribution and/or use of the Program is restricted in
   certain countries for any reason, Licensor may add an explicit
   geographical distribution limitation excluding those countries, so
   that distribution is permitted only in or among countries not thus
   excluded.  In such case, this License incorporates the limitation as
   if written in the body of this License.

In other words, if the program is illegal to use in a particular
country, you can limit its use in that country.  Technically, this is a
violation of OSI and DFSG.  Realistically, it's an oxymoron.  If you
can't distribute it, then you can't distribute it.  Oh well.

Anyway, unless I've made a mistake in my (admittedly quick) reading, the
main highlight of the AFPL is:

   * You can have my program and source code for free.
   * You may unconditionally modify and distribute my program and source
      code, except for, perhaps, in countries where it's illegal to use.
   * You have to acknowledge me in derivative work.
   * You must include this license with such derivatives.
   * You may not put further restrictions on the program and source.
   * If you're a business, you may not profit from my work.  Only
      I can profit from my work.

This is fine by me.  I have no problem whatsoever with the author of a
piece of software being the only person who can profit from the fruits
of their labor.

In fact, I think this is how the world should be.  All the wrong people
are making money.  It's an utterly shameful statement about our society
that it's more profitable for know-nothing idiots like Darl McBride to
buy IP and make money off their IP than it is for them to sit down in
front of a computer and create something.

I think Debian calling the AFPL non-free is doing a great disservice to
the AFPL, and to us.


Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler. -- Albert Einstein
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