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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: Sun, 27 Apr 2008 01:28:21 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla-Thunderbird (X11/20080110)

Markus Laire wrote:
Paul O'Malley wrote:
hi Sam,
With reference to:

Please read the last part by Colin Watson, I agree with him. We now have several ways to read it as Free.

I only see one message from "Colin Watson", the one dated "Wed, 4 Dec 2002 06:43:08 -0600", and it doesn't speak about "Sun RPC"-issue at all, only about "GNU Free Documentation License" which isn't the issue with bug 123.

That's also what I thought.

(Unfortunately that Debian bug initially spoke about two completely different issues, "Sun RPC" and "GNU Free Documentation License". If you read it through, you'll see that GFDL-issue was later dropped from that bug.)

I hope you didn't get mixed up with these two issues.

What Sun's aim was in this matter seems to have been was that a person would not release work downstream and claim it was Sun's, or derived from Sun.

My paraphrasing of what Sun is saying goes as follows - "you may use our work, BUT you _must_ call it your work and cite us as source". That is standard copyright attribution. It is a real pity that the words that Sun used are convoluted enough to cause confusion for some people. In saying this IANAL, however, I have been using English every day of my life since I started talking well over forty years ago.
{ ;-) Some would say I was rambling but that is another matter. }

I don't see how "Sun RPC" license could ever be interpreted in that way.

The fact is that if you really feel that you was some kind of definitive answer you need to ask the right question* of Sun. Neither Brian nor for that matter myself are unhappy with the interpretation. We have discussed this in one of our many phone calls.

I considered contacting Sun, but I didn't know what to ask exactly.

The question as far as we are both concerned is answered, questioning the answer is not a bad thing. However questioning the answer without sufficient argument is not going to get anyone to rethink a position.

gNewSense has as a project since Brian and I met up to first discuss it on ICT Expo in the RDS in Dublin Friday 4th May 2006 (nearly two years ago now), made huge strides, this should not be a sticking point.

A correctly formulated question to be asked of Sun would be:
Providing that people give suitable attribution and include your licence, do you prohibit the use of your Sun RPC code complete or in part in other peoples works?

I don't think that is enough. That doesn't handle the issue of "developed by the user" restriction on distribution.

If I'd know what to ask from Sun, I'd contact them.

I think a better question would be:
Providing that one gives suitable attribution and includes your license, do you probibit the use of your Sun RPC code complete or in part in one's own work, so that it could be licensed and distributed to others under a different license?

If the answer is yes then the code should be removed because then a work that contains the code is restricted to be used only by developers who made that work.

If the answer is no then the original Sun code is non-free because it cannot be distributed by itself. That doesn't matter for gNewSense because it is part of another work. The code in portmap.c would then fall under the modified BSD license. I think that a new bug should be submitted then for the other code in portmap because they don't have a license (except for portmap.8, which is also modified BSD).

My personal answer:
Does their licence prohibit such use, not that I can see.

I do this by writing out the four freedoms and read the licence to see if it offends any of them.

"Freedom 2: The freedom to copy the program so you can help your neighbor." is offended because license doesn't seem to give that freedom to everyone, only to those who have taken part in developing the product/program.

We are not Debian and use the GDFL which Debian would not, however we do lock out that which is referred to as the advertising clause.

GDFL isn't the issue here.

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