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Is forcing "upstream" distribution really OK for free software?


From: MJ Ray
Subject: Is forcing "upstream" distribution really OK for free software?
Date: 07 Jul 2004 15:49:18 GMT

There is increasing debate about some of the tools debian-legal
mailing list members use to analyse whether software is free software or
not. These tools are usually based on the DFSG or the FSF's four freedoms,
which both try to express similar ideas.

One of these tools (sometimes called the "isolation test" or "desert
island test") suggests that forced distribution to any party is not
something a free software licence can require. The test is described
in http://people.debian.org/~bap/dfsg-faq.html

The FSF appeared to make the same point in the
section "Central Control" of their comments on APSL 1
http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/historical-apsl.html However, the
page http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html had a comment that
requiring distribution to the original developer if asked is OK. This
seems inconsistent.

What have I not understood? What is the flaw in the test? Is there
external reasoning for the FSD page? References fine. Thanks in advance
for your time.

-- 
MJR/slef
My Opinions Only, but I thank: Matthew Garrett, Josh Triplett




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