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Re: ipf (why it never was free)



Chris Hedemark wrote:

> Theo said:
> > we will have to work on an alternative.

> Why?  Why not just build from the last known "free license" version of the
> software?

If you want the short version of this mail, read what Heikki Korpela
said and/or Jeff Bachtel's comparison between the BSD license and Darren
Reed's.

Because I make music and release it for free on the internet, I studied
the (German) copyright law in order to know how all this works. The
following explanations refer only to the German law, but according to
Darren's statements it seems that this is very similar to Australian law
(and even US law and that of other countries). I won't give any warranty
on my explanation since I am no lawyer, but since I also invested quite
some time into this topic, I'm quite positive that most of the following
is correct.

The copyright law doesn't distinguish between different kinds of
authors, so this applies to both composers and writers of lyrics,
software and so on.

Every author exclusively has *all* rights concerning his work the moment
he starts to work on it (the so-called "exclusive rights"). Only he may
modify it, give it to others for free or sell or license it, and so on.
This means that, if one would compare it to an ipf ruleset, it would
look like that by default (from the public's viewpoint):

block in from any to any
block out from any to any
#EOF

Only those rights he *explicitly* grants to the public may be used by
the public and nothing else. If he used a BSD license or similar, this
license would have done this job for him, but as we can see he wrote his
own. Those rights he grants to the public are "simple rights", which
means that nobody of the public may grant any (or more) of these rights
to others - only Darren may do that.

" * Redistribution and use in source and binary forms are permitted 
  * provided that this notice is preserved and due credit is given 
  * to the original author and the contributors. "

Here, he allows the redistribution and *use* of his source code and the
binaries that are compiled from it. "use" means "use", and not "modify",
"sell", "hire", "lend" or anything else. The "due credits" also don't
imply that one may create derivative works provided that those credits
are given. Those credits have to be given when someone from the public
redistributes his code or uses it (in an unmodified form!) within
another product, e.g. OpenBSD, or as a precompiled RPM package etc.
Unfortunately, selling OpenBSD on CDs already infringes Darren's
copyrights in two ways - it is both sold and modified.

Everything that someone writes, be it software or artistic stuff like
music, is proprietary by default and protected by (inter)national
copyright laws. The authors have to explicitly grant every single right
they want others to have, especially if something is supposed to be Open
Source in the common sense (GPL, etc.), or even public domain (BSD
license). ipf is "Freeware", which means that it can be obtained and
redistributed for no money, but it is not "Open Source" (it's irrelevant
whether the source code is actually available or not). Usually, just
like in this case with ipf, Freeware may not be sold together with other
products for money, e.g. on a CD that comes with a magazine, even if the
price only covers the expenses the redistributor had. Why? Because
Darren didn't allow it.

My very personal opinion is that Darren cannot be blamed for anything.
He never changed his license to anything more proprietary than before,
and he only did what is his highly deserved right. The two lines he
added to his license really only clearified things. The only thing one
might blame him for is to assume that everybody actually understands his
license... but this has nothing to do with the license itself. In order
to prevent those misunderstandings, big companies that allow their
proprietary software or drivers to be downloaded for free hit you with a
license agreement that fills three or more screens at font size 1 -
everybody skips over it and clicks 'agree', but also everybody knows
"okay, i can download but i may do shit with that thing". So, if someone
feels ass-raped now, this is the problem of the respective person, and
not Darren's. But that's just my $.1.

Concerning OpenBSD, this is a big bummer. When I first installed it, I
instantly loved it, no matter what problems I had in the beginning. It
was the first OS I ever used that was actually fun to configure. :) IPF
highly contributed to my positive feelings towards OpenBSD - everything
OpenBSD related I know of is logical, effective, dedicated and still
understandable at the same time. A possible way out of this misery would
be, IMHO, to friendly try to convince Darren to grant a few more rights
to make his great product as free as necessary to allow it to stay with
OpenBSD, or even switch to a GPL-like license (this would ensure that
only he may allow someone, for monetary compensation, to use IPF or
parts of it within another proprietary, closed-source product). The
benefits would be a continuing large (and growing) userbase for both IPF
and OpenBSD and less trouble on every side (be it OpenBSD, companies
that use it and IPF, or even Darren's). Otherwise, I understand that IPF
may not stay with OpenBSD, as it really doesn't comply with OpenBSD's
goals and philosophy with its current license. Again, just my $.1, makes
$.2 on the whole.



Moritz

P.S.: Darren Reed really doesn't have to fear anything in court. His
case will be closed within moments and he'd have won.

P.P.S.: If I got something wrong, please let me know - I am interested
in this topic and if there's something I can learn from it, I'm happy to
do so.