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Re: [gNewSense-users] Possible problem with closed bug 123

From: Sam Geeraerts
Subject: Re: [gNewSense-users] Possible problem with closed bug 123
Date: Sat, 26 Apr 2008 00:46:34 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla-Thunderbird (X11/20080110)

Martin List-Petersen wrote:
Sam Geeraerts wrote:
Paul O'Malley wrote:
Markus Laire wrote:
Markus Laire wrote:
Brian said:
: One reading of this is: "Users may copy or modify Sun RPC without
: charge, but are not authorized to license or distribute it to anyone
: else except as part of a product or program developed by the user" -
: the second clause of the "or" can be ignored.

IMO the meaning of the license is clearly "Users may copy or modify Sun RPC without charge, but are not authorized to license or distribute it to anyone else except as part of a product developed by the user or program developed by the user" (note the added text).

After thinking this a bit more I'm not so sure anymore whether it is meant to mean "except as part of a (product) or (program developed by the user)" or "except as part of a (product or program) developed by the user"

In a case like this shouldn't gNS contact the copyright holder(s) instead of deciding to interpret the license favorably for gNS?


Your extract was not verbose enough to prove your case.
You should have started here:
Upstream Author: Wietse Venema


Most of the files, fall under the following copyright, and are distributable
under the terms of the BSD license (/usr/share/common-licenses/BSD):

 * Copyright (c) 1983,1991 The Regents of the University of California.
 * All rights reserved.

Some of the RPC code, is copyrighted by Sun Microsystems, and is provided under the following terms:


This implies that the code is part of a product which Wietse has licensed.

Licence is thus free!

That copyright summary was added by Debian. Looking at the original source code [1] the only files that mention the (original) BSD license are portmap.c and portmap.8. The former also contains the Sun RPC restriction, as does from_local.c. The other files do not contain license information, nor is there a COPYING file.

If there were a COPYING file, then I think the code that originally fell under the (non-free) Sun RPC restriction would be (freely) re-licensed by the user-developer who put the code together and there would be no problem.

Right now, I think the only free code in there is portmap.c and portmap.8.

So I think the copyright holders should be asked:
- what the license of every file is
- if the Sun RPC restriction still applies to anyone who wants to distribute the code (and maybe clarify what the restriction actually means)

If Debian has added the copyright summary, then that has been done based on a request from the user-developer (Wietse). Again, in doubt as him before trying to non-free it here.

Based on the information available, Brians decision is clear.

I respect the opinion of both Brian and the Debian community, as they are probably more knowledgable about this kind of stuff then me. However, that doesn't mean that I or anyone else has to accept their word as the absolute truth, no questions asked. I am confused about this bug's resolution, so I'm trying to weed out the details of it to determine whether the resolution is wrong or whether I'm stupid.

While looking for the Debian maintainer of portmap to ask him about how the COPYING file came to be, I found bug 424957 [1]. It seems that Debian also has some serious concerns about the Sun RPC restriction.


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