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Re: Overview of copyright issues

From: Graham Percival
Subject: Re: Overview of copyright issues
Date: Sat, 19 Sep 2009 07:30:53 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.18 (2008-05-17)

On Fri, Sep 11, 2009 at 01:03:05AM +0200, Joseph Wakeling wrote:
> Graham Percival wrote:
> > The manuals include the FDL, so I'd argue that it's clear that the
> > sources are under the same license.  I'd argue the same about the
> > source files, actually.
> This is basically about good (unambiguous) practice as far as I'm
> concerned (see e.g. GNU project guidelines).

Bugger the GNU project guidelines.  They're not the be-all and
end-all of good project mangement.  In many ways, they're pure
rubbish.  Toodle-pip, cheers, and all that.

(I'm trying to be more British... I was really surprised at the
use of "cheers" here.  It's a greeting!  It's a farewell!  It's a
thanks!  It's an airplaine... no, it's super-word!  :)

> > Really?  Line 22 says "Version 2, June 1991" to me.  How exactly
> > do you propose to change the COPYING file?
> I propose to add text closer to the statement recommended by the FSF/GNU
> foundation and by the GPL itself:
>     GNU Lilypond is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
>     it under the terms of version 2 of the GNU General Public License as
>     published by the Free Software Foundation.


> ... plus some further explanatory text that will probably be close to
> what the existing file says.  Perhaps also a line emphasising the
> licensing situation (i.e. v2 only) as the Linux kernel COPYING file
> does,


> and a note explaining how we are attempting to change the
> licensing situation.

Not ok.

The above "ok"s are in reference to notices on the entry point
(i.e., notation.tely for some GFDL text, etc).

For all other files, such as or world.itely, I
think a simple:
  This file is part of the LilyPond Documentation.  It is
  included in specialist.itely, which is included in
  ../notation.itely.  See the latter file for copyright license.
@end ignore

> >>           (v) the link on the main page which (still) points to the
> >>               text of GPLv3 on (and has ever since v3 was
> >>               released -- the first message pointing out this
> >>               discrepancy was sent to the -devel mailing list over
> >>               2 years ago!).
> > 
> > This is fixed on the new website.
> But not on the current one, which is still live ... :-)

Patches accepted.

> >> In addressing this there are several policies that can be put in place NOW:
> >>
> >>    (1) All new files added to the code or docs must contain an
> >>        unambiguous copyright AND licensing notice: I suggest in this
> >>        case GPLv2 or later for code, and the GFDL 1.1 or later for docs.
> > 
> > I really don't see why we MUST do this.  Is there any legal
> > requirement that every single file contain the license?  I'm not
> > aware of any.  Material is copyright by default.
> Sure; this is just a useful policy to have (and maintain) because it
> clarifies the licensing situation on a file-by-file basis.

But we *don't* have "a licensing situation" on a file-by-file
basis.  Everything[1] under Documentation/  is FDL; everything
else[2] is GPLv2.

[1] it would be very useful if somebody could create an example to
replace, since that's non-free.

[2] it would be very useful if somebody could identify anything
(other than texinfo.tex and input/* since those are slated for
demolition) that isn't GPLv2.

[3] haha, an unreferenced footnote!  It would be very useful if
the note at the top of /COPYING had these exceptions noted.

> >>    (2) Contributors of new material to existing files should add
> >>        copyright/licensing notices *for their contributions*, again with
> >>        appropriate 'or later' bits.
> > 
> > That's going to get ridiculous.  We should add a name for each
> > one-line bugfix?
> No.  My statement was not clear enough.  There are guidelines on this in
> the 'Information for Maintainers of GNU Software':

Bugger them -- this time with feeling, not as a cutesy attempt to
learn/naturalize British slang.

What's the point of per-file stuff?  The only thing that I can
think of is that if somebody discovers the file via a google
search (say, in gitweb), but is too lazy to look at the top of the
gitweb repository, they can see the license and comply with it.

That's ridiculous.  Anybody who is moral will take the extra 30
seconds to find the appropriate COPYING file.  Anybody who isn't
moral is going to ignore the license anyway and just take whatever
they want.

I will admit that the docs could use better signage, especially
after I moved the license into a @macro (oops).  But a simple
paragraph for the main manuals in Documentation/, and a sentence
or two pointing back to those main manuals for everything in a
subdir, would suffice for this.

> >>    (2) Is there a preference for transferring copyright to some third
> >>        party (either the FSF or some LP-dedicated organisation)?  If
> >>        not, it seems a good idea for future contributions to LP to be
> >>        'or later', as it avoids a repeat of this issue in the future.
> > 
> > This has been discussed privately, and might occur if the
> > copyright-fixing issue is undertaken seriously.
> Personally I'm not in favour of copyright-transfer agreements, I think
> they get in the way of contribution -- it's more important to have the
> 'or later' GPL option that allows for upgrades if desired.  But I will
> help achieve this if it's something the Lilypond community wants.

Since the FSF are a bunch of weasels[4], I'm not in favor of an
'or later'.

> > 2)  We pretend to be wikipedia.  Hey, they changed from FDL to
> > Creative Commons after a vote.  If they can get away with
> > something as blatantly illegal as that 
> Wikipedia had some clever help from the FSF.  Their license was GFDL 1.2
> or later, so the FSF released 1.3 which included a relicensing option
> during a limited time window.

[4] wow.  I remember seeing something about a specific date and
thought "gee, that's weird", but I didn't quite follow through on
what it was about.  What a bunch of weasels!  I say this with
mixed admiration and moral repugnance.
(I see no problem with admiring the intellectual abilities of
someone -- say, Richard Wagner -- while simultaneously
repudicating their moral stances -- say, Richard Wager)

Now, if they simply stated that material under FDL1.2 could be
relicensed as CC, that would be fine.  They could then -- as
indeed they did -- release FDL1.3, so people could choose to use
1.3 or higher to avoid the relicensing.  But to introduce a
time-specific window... an indication that they don't really
approve of this other license, but that they're willing to hold
their noses for political benefit or whatever... ick.

I now seriously want to stop releasing my doc work as "FDL 1.1 or
later"; the FSF has shown that they cannot be trusted with such a
blank cheque.  However, this is a bad time to introduce such a
debate, so I'll keep with the status quo.  We can reopen this in a
few months.

> At the same time, I'm going to be maintaining a list of contributors who
> have given at least email confirmation, to me, on this mailing list,
> that they are OK with their contributions being GPLv2 or later (not just
> GPLv2 only) and that for the docs they are OK with dual-licensing
> GPLv1.1 or later and GPLv2 or later.  I will also be maintaining a list
> of identified contributors who have NOT.

For the record, I am NOT giving such permission.  When we reach an
appropriate time to consider license changes -- say, at the
beginning of 2010 -- I might give permission for whatever proposal
is brought forth.

> I'll write another email tomorrow with a detailed action plan.  The
> basic intention is that, if I succeed, Lilypond gains something; if I
> fail, then nobody's time will have been wasted but mine, beyond the time
> spent in discussion these last couple of days. :-)

No.  If there's a detailed file-by-file, "Copyright 2003, 2008 by
X who wrote 38 lines, copyright 2005 by Y who wrote 123 lines",
then that creates pressure to maintain it.  That wastes
*everybody's* time.

Or rather, that wastes *your* time, because there's no way I'm
going to bother with that.  If somebody wrote documentation for
lilypond, I'm going to put it wherever I feel like.  If we improve
the manual structure and move it somewhere else, I'm going to do
that.  Keeping track of who wrote which lines is way too much work.

- Graham

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