Gentoo Archives: gentoo-dev

From: Ulrich Mueller <ulm@g.o>
To: gentoo-dev@l.g.o
Subject: Re: [gentoo-dev] Packages without source code (was: Clarify the "as-is" license?)
Date: Thu, 03 Jan 2013 14:40:50
In Reply to: Re: [gentoo-dev] Re: Clarify the "as-is" license? by Rich Freeman
1 >>>>> On Sat, 29 Sep 2012, Rich Freeman wrote:
3 > On Sat, Sep 29, 2012 at 5:21 PM, Ulrich Mueller <ulm@g.o> wrote:
4 >>>>>>> On Sat, 29 Sep 2012, Chí-Thanh Christopher Nguyễn wrote:
5 >>> If we start to measure the software freedom of the code inside the
6 >>> package, then maybe LICENSE is the wrong variable to express this.
7 >>
8 >> I'm aware that we can't distinguish the two cases. Should we have a
9 >> "binary-only" license to catch it?
11 > The license isn't binary-only. The license is BSD. It just happens
12 > that the thing they're licensing is the binary and not the source.
14 Coming back to this. I agree that the license is BSD.
16 > Does it really matter? Before we start overloading the LICENSE flag
17 > to represent something other than the license we should probably
18 > have a problem to actually fix.
20 There is a real problem, namely that we use it for filtering with
21 ACCEPT_LICENSE, and for BSD we currently cannot distinguish between
22 free (i.e. source is available) and non-free software.
24 > As far as freedom of code goes, arguably the code is perfectly free
25 > - it just isn't open source. You could legally decompile, modify,
26 > recompile, and redistribute it and your assembly language sources as
27 > much as you like.
29 The code is only free as in beer. But it is neither Free Software nor
30 Open Source.
32 The Free Software Definition [1] is very clear about this point:
34 A program is free software if the program's users have the four
35 essential freedoms:
36 [...]
37 • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it
38 does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source
39 code is a precondition for this.
40 [...]
41 • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to
42 others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole
43 community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the
44 source code is a precondition for this.
46 [...]
48 In order for freedoms 1 and 3 (the freedom to make changes and the
49 freedom to publish the changed versions) to be meaningful, you must
50 have access to the source code of the program. Therefore,
51 accessibility of source code is a necessary condition for free
52 software.
54 So is The Open Source Definition [2]:
56 2. Source Code
58 The program must include source code, and must allow distribution
59 in source code as well as compiled form. Where some form of a
60 product is not distributed with source code, there must be a
61 well-publicized means of obtaining the source code for no more than
62 a reasonable reproduction cost preferably, downloading via the
63 Internet without charge. The source code must be the preferred form
64 in which a programmer would modify the program. Deliberately
65 obfuscated source code is not allowed. Intermediate forms such as
66 the output of a preprocessor or translator are not allowed.
68 We could easily solve this by adding a "binary-only" or
69 "no-source-code" tag to such packages. It would be included in the
70 @BINARY-REDISTRIBUTABLE license group, but not in @FREE. So such
71 packages would be excluded for users with ACCEPT_LICENSE="-* @FREE".
73 Thinking about the name, "no-source-code" might be a better choice
74 than "binary-only". As the GPL defines it, "The source code for a work
75 means the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it."
76 This may be binary, e.g. for pictures in a bitmap format.
78 Ulrich
81 [1]
82 [2]