l i n u x - u s e r s - g r o u p - o f - d a v i s
Next Meeting:
July 7: Social gathering
Next Installfest:
Latest News:
Jun. 14: June LUGOD meeting cancelled
Page last updated:
2004 Aug 11 10:47

The following is an archive of a post made to our 'vox-tech mailing list' by one of its subscribers.

Report this post as spam:

(Enter your email address)
Re: [vox-tech] [OT] The AFPL (was: some PDF problems: screen andprint rendering do not match)
[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

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

Quoting Peter Jay Salzman (p@dirac.org):

> Now what does that have to do with the AFPL?
> Let's look at who likes and doesn't like the AFPL.


   Aladdin Free Public License
   (Version 9, September 18, 2000)

   This license is subject to the following restrictions:

       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). 

It's an excellent and useful licence (which Stallman helped Aladdin
Enterprises / Peter Deutsch draft, by the way), but it most definitely
restricts commercial usage.  Ergo, it's proprietary (non-free).

FSF assisted Aladdin with that because it was part of a useful
compromise whereby new releases of Ghostscript emerge under AFPL only
for a period of time, allowing Aladdin to enjoy a monopoly on commercial
rights, and then rereleased eventually under GNU GPL as GNU Ghostscript.

> 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.

It suffices to read the licence.

> They also say the AFL and OSL are non-free too.

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".

In practice, the way things are supposed to work in Debian is that
Debian developers (package maintainers) are urged to consult
debian-legal if they have licensing questions about their respective
packages, but then are sovereign to make up their own minds, unless
specifically directed otherwise by a General Resolution, one of the
appropriate delegates, or the Technical Committee.  Nobody on
debian-legal has any authority whatsoever, beyond a mere opportunity to
advise -- and the group _has_ no voice as a whole.  Web pages that claim
the contrary (and they exist) are mistaken.

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

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.

> 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.

There is some truth to that.  However, to be fair, the same would be
true (to almost the same degree) if, say, the Samba Project simply
declared that it was revoking the right to run new releases of Samba on
Unixware and Open Server.  (Theoretically, SCO Group could then fork 
and maintain older releases, but that would be expensive and troublesome
for them.)  The Samba Project decided not to do that -- though it was

At least a couple of GPLed projects _have_ taken that step.  I can't
remember which ones.

> Freshmeat thinks the AFPL is free:
>    http://freshmeat.net/browse/826/

Freshmeat actually doesn't distinguish between free and non-free
(open-source and proprietary) licences.  They carried for many years,
for example, a page of information on my mirror of Microsoft Corp's 
beta of Netshow for Linux (in http://linuxmafia.com/pub/linux/apps/),
though it seems to have been dropped.

> It's also good enough for sourceforge:
>    http://sourceforge.net/projects/ghostscript/

...where AFPL is classified as "Other/Proprietary".

> 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
> legal.

OSI's definition of open source _is_ the canonical one.

> Now _why_ is the AFPL non-free?
> Well then, you can modify the source.  Perhaps you can't distribute the
> modification?  Kind of like pine's license:

Yes, indeed.  Or xv's.

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.)
Restricting commercial use _is_ the most common reason licences are
legitimately considered non-free / proprietary.  Many people find this
surprising, thinking that open source is the same as the sort of
academic gentleman-philosopher attitude applied to much source-available
software (aside from UC Berkeley's) in the 1980s: the attitude that all
anyone needs is source access and the right of non-commercial use.
E.g., COPS, PGP after 2.6.3, ssh.com's ssh, SATAN, and Tripwire prior to
v. 2.3.0.  All of those were fine for what they were -- but not open
source.  The open source world collectively wrote replacements for them
all, in part because of deciding not to put up with restrictions on
commercial usage.

> 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.)

Cheers,                     "All power is delightful, but absolute power
Rick Moen                    is absolutely delightful."  - Kenneth Tynan
vox-tech mailing list

LUGOD Group on LinkedIn
Sign up for LUGOD event announcements
Your email address:
LUGOD Group on Facebook
'Like' LUGOD on Facebook:

Hosting provided by:
Sunset Systems
Sunset Systems offers preconfigured Linux systems, remote system administration and custom software development.

LUGOD: Linux Users' Group of Davis
PO Box 2082, Davis, CA 95617
Contact Us

LUGOD is a 501(c)7 non-profit organization
based in Davis, California
and serving the Sacramento area.
"Linux" is a trademark of Linus Torvalds.

Sponsored in part by:
Appahost Applications
For a significant contribution towards our projector, and a generous donation to allow us to continue meeting at the Davis Library.