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[Groff] (no subject)

From: Alejandro López-Valencia
Subject: [Groff] (no subject)
Date: 6 Dec 2003 09:19:57 -0500

Subject: Re: [Groff] groff's license file COPYING
Date: Sat, 6 Dec 2003 09:19:39 -0500
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On Saturday, December 06, 2003 6:33 AM [GMT-5],
Bernd Warken <address@hidden> wrote:

> On Fri, Dec 05, 2003 at 07:47:02PM -0500, I Alejandro
> wrote:

>>> From reading the GPL, the text in the LICENSE file should be...:
>> """
>> groff - The classic UNIX text processing package.
>> Copyright (C) 1997-2004 Free Software Foundation (FSF).
>> This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
>> it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published
>> the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or
>> (at your option) any later version.
>> This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
>> but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
>> GNU General Public License for more details.
>> You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
>> along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software
>> Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place, Suite 330, Boston, MA
>> 02111-1307  USA
>> <and here a short note>
>> You will find a copy of the GPL in the file COPYING at the top of
>> the unpacked source code distribution.
>> <and here a short note />
>> """"
>> If I recall correctly, James Clark donated groff to the FSF in
>> but please do correct me if I am wrong.

> I'm not totally sure whether I understood everything you mean.

Don't worry, it happens that I am not clear some times, most of the

Allow me to pull the issue out of the hypothetical void and
objectify it based on my personal experience and expertise: You
can't modify the text of a *LICENSE AGREEMENT*, which under US law
is a binding contract --- thus the sentence "By opening this package
you agree" that you have read in many EULAs ---, without making it
void and putting yourself in a position of jeopardy with criminal
intent --- have you read about the RIAA suing minors lately?

Remember, the GPL is legally binding in the US *only*. It is
somewhat enforceable anywhere else on this rock only *by vicarious
proxy*, that is, only in those countries that have signed
international copyright treaties signed by the USA as well, *and*
these treaties are not valid unless approved by their national law
creation bodies; there are countries where the Berne Convention
(1954?) is not valid because their congress has not approved it with
a local law yet.

We, those who live outside the USA, fulfil the conditions of the GPL
usually on different grounds, pick those that apply:

(1) High sense of honor and ethics.
(2) Belief in the spirit of the license and the concept of Open
(3) Childish and immature hate for anything Redmond, WA, USA.
(4) Thoughtful disgust and despise for anything Redmond, WA, USA.
(5) There is nothing like a free lunch.
(6) Being poor as a churchmouse.
(7) Some of the above.
(8) All of the above.

Now, the GPL itself states very clearly at the end of it, what is
the legally binding text for a license and that's what I quoted in
my previous message, and didn't elide above. The text you propose is
an attempt to express in different words what the FSF lawyer
approved text already says. They wrote it that way, because it is
clean and legal under US federal legislation. Anything different
won't make the FSF lawyers happy nor the US Federal judge happy, nor
RMS happy!

I think that before we continue further with this friendly
discussion, Werner should run down the text, as you propose it,
through Richard Stallman who can (and will!) run it down through the
lawyers of the FSF.

> It is a bad idea to speak about UNIX.  This name was legally
> and sold.  Its changing owners still provide lots of trouble.

Make it UNIX(tm) and everyone is happy. BTW, UNIX(tm) is not SCO's
propriety but Novell's. Of course, this being such a hot topic,
wisdom dictates that the line could be:

    groff, a sophisticated text processing package.

instead. What'cha think?

> The groff project is part of GNU, so the copyright of all files
> to the FSF.  To mention this in the LICENSE file makes sense.  So
> propose to add the following to the end of the LICENSE file.
> ### last paragraph of LICENSE
> ...
> Additionally to specifying a license, the law forces to give a
> copyright to each file.  As the groff program is a GNU project,
> files of the groff source package are copyrighted to the Free
> Foundation (FSF). Information on GNU and FSF is found at
> ### end of LICENSE

Take this as a gut reaction (which the above is not): don't you
think that the tone of this text is too apologetic?

Channelling the spirit of your proposal in the language you use...
You really want an explanation for possible contributors that they
will have to transfer all copyrights on their work to the FSF and
fill in actual legal forms on paper (the nerve...! :-). well... Then
shouldn't there be a file called CONTRIBUTING or some such that
stated exactly that instead?.

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