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Re: [vox-tech] [OT] The AFPL (was: some PDF problems: screen andprint rendering do not match)
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Re: [vox-tech] [OT] The AFPL (was: some PDF problems: screen andprint rendering do not match)

On Wed 11 Aug 04,  9:13 AM, Rick Moen <rick@linuxmafia.com> said:
> Quoting Peter Jay Salzman (p@dirac.org):
> > 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.
> Oddly enough, there _is_ no authoritative voice on the debian-legal
> mailing list.  Therefore, many people indulge the habit of googling the
> list to see if any mailing list participant whatsoever thinks he sees a
> DFSG problem with some licence, and deciding, based on that, that
> whatever that individual said is what "debian-legal dislikes".
Hi Rick,

You were probably wondering why I railed against Debian legal.  It
probably looked like it came form left field.   :)

I just learned a few days ago that the Linux Gamers' HOWTO and Debian
Jigdo HOWTO were moved into doc-linux-nonfree because they're released
under the OSL, and the OSL has been declared non-free by Debian.

When I asked for an explanation, the Debian LDP Maintainers pointed me
to this web page:


which looks about as official as anything can get!

> And yes, I've seen the objections some debian-legal participants raise
> to the AFL and OSL.  Those are simply loopy.

Agreed!  If I were to argue with their four points, it would be along
the lines of:

1. Not a violation of the DFSG

2. It's a stretch to say that a person using software must acknowledge
   acceptance of the license, especially since the license says that by
   exercising your rights, you already implicitly acknowledge the

3. Another strech, IMHO.  But I'm sure Larry Rosen would be willing to
   reword / rework that section if someone approached him about it.

4. I think the OSL's hardcore copyleft stance is the entire reason to
   embrace it!   :)

> Moral of the story:  Look for loons on debian-legal and you can find
> them, alongside more sober folk.  After all, any featherless biped may
> join and post.

I know you're right.  I'm still smarting from being told my HOWTOs are
non-free.  It makes me feel ... icky and dirty.   :)

> Access to source code isn't the essence of open source.  The essence of
> open source is the right to fork plus the right to use the codebase for
> any purpose without restriction.  (There are details and ramifications.)


You make some very good arguments, and I agree with you completely.  The
key issue is: "there are details and ramifications".  Exactly where that
boundary lies between free and non-free is really what the whole thing
is about.

Theo de Raadt would probably say that the GPL has freedom issues.  Some
might say that requiring a business to release modifications it made to
software it's distributing is tantamount to restricting commercial
usage.  Very few companies want to do that, and there are certainly
licenses out that that don't require them to.

We would say there are freedom issues with the advertising clause in
older BSD style licenses.  Ballmer calling the GPL a "viral license"
gets laughed at.  And rightfully so.  But objectively, I can see how an
opponent to OSS can make that unflattering (and in Ballmer's case,
ironic) claim.


> > 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.
> I have no problem with that, either.  But it's not open source.
> The words "proprietary" and "non-free" shouldn't be considered
> pejorative, merely descriptive.  (I prefer the former.)

You're absolutely right.   :)

I still feel pretty self conscious about the irony of the Debian Jigdo
HOWTO being non-free, so I'm a little tender on this issue.


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