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XFree86 Alters License 430

Posted by michael
from the two-steps-forward-three-steps-back dept.
kinema writes "According to the XFree86 announcement starting with XFree86 v4.4.0-RC3 there will be a new license. There are some worries that these changes might be incompatible with the GPL." The FSF has a good page about the problems with BSD-style advertising clauses, which ironically uses XFree86's old license as an example of one to emulate.
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XFree86 Alters License

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  • eh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cyn (50070) <cyn@cyn.FREEBSDorg minus bsd> on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:14PM (#8135384) Homepage
    the source is still out there, worst case scenario - the license isn't gpl, and they don't change it to be so - some of the developers split off and recruit noobs, and we end up with a renamed X that everyone uses - that takes a little while to ramp back up to full speed.

    It's not the end of the world, but it (could) be annoying, that's for sure. I think thorough investigation is needed (e.g. try reading the license)
    • Re:eh (Score:3, Interesting)

      by psyberjedi (650736)
      Isn't this simply a case of giving credit where credit is due. If you build a project that includes the blood, sweat, and tears of other people, shouldn't they be credited. Either in the documentation or through some other method.

      For the Open Source community to succeed we can not forget the hard work put in by those who came before us.
      • Re:eh (Score:5, Funny)

        by moranar (632206) on Friday January 30, 2004 @01:05PM (#8135948) Homepage Journal
        Isn't this simply a case of giving credit where credit is due. If you build a project that includes the blood, sweat, and tears of other people, shouldn't they be credited.

        Shouldn't you use question marks after interrogative sentences. Or are they not used anymore.

      • Re:eh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fizbin (2046) <martin@snoBLUEwplow.org minus berry> on Friday January 30, 2004 @01:11PM (#8136028) Homepage
        But where does it stop?

        What do I do when I want to box up Debian and have to suddenly include three pages of acknowledgements on the outside of the box?

        To the response "that's ridiculous; it won't get out of hand", I have to ask: why put it in the license? Is there some reason you need to use the legal force of copyright to bash this over people's heads? Can't you just rely on most people to not be credit-stealing bastards?

        The only thing making this clause part of the license does is hurt people who want to be strictly correct in following license rules - but these are the same people who already are giving credit where credit is due. The people who are stealing the credit whole-hog (if, indeed, there are such people) will likely stick the acknowledgement to xfree.org so far down in the secondary appendix to the most unread manual that no one will ever find it unless they already know about xfree's license and go looking.

        I have nothing wrong with acknowledging other people's work. The problem is with being forced to do it.
        • Re:eh (Score:5, Informative)

          by __past__ (542467) on Friday January 30, 2004 @01:27PM (#8136251)
          What do I do when I want to box up Debian and have to suddenly include three pages of acknowledgements on the outside of the box?
          But you don't. Read the license again. You have to put an acknowledgement in the documentation, in Debians case a file in /usr/share/doc/XFree86 (or whereever they put such things) is perfektly sufficient, and they include the licenses of their packages anyway.
      • by SnowZero (92219)
        The problem is that if you include 30 lines of XFree source code in a 3000 line project, you still need the notice. NetBSD has hundreds of such notices, for example. It's not fun to have those loads of messages when the software runs either, or in the help file.

        And after all that, you really can't force someone to give you the credit you deserve anyway, they will only give credit if the want to. Windows gives "credit" to the BSD network stack (among other things) that they incorporate in Windows, but it
      • Re:eh (Score:5, Funny)

        by nomadic (141991) <.nomadicworld. .at. .gmail.com.> on Friday January 30, 2004 @01:51PM (#8136552) Homepage
        If you build a project that includes the blood, sweat, and tears of other people, shouldn't they be credited.

        If your open source project manager requires you to bleed, sweat, and cry, then you might want to consider forking...
  • GPL popularity? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Will this affect the popularity of the GPL?

    XFree86 is using a different license, as is Apache... will this put off others using the GPL, and encourage them to use a license of their own creation that best suits their needs?
    • Re:GPL popularity? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by __past__ (542467) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:41PM (#8135700)
      Will this affect the popularity of the GPL? XFree86 is using a different license, as is Apache...
      But XFree86 and Apache (and thousands of other projects, some very important ones among them) have always used non-GNU licenses, and GPL-incompatible licenses are not uncommon either. (OpenSSH, Mozilla, ... - Apache is just adopting a new, GPL compatible license) Yet many people still use the GPL as a "default license" without much thinking, and it and the LGPL are by far the most frequently used free licenses.

      will this put off others using the GPL, and encourage them to use a license of their own creation that best suits their needs?
      Hopefully people will use one of the various existing open source [opensource.org]/ free software [gnu.org] licenses rather than rolling their own, but other than that - wouldn't it be a good thing if people would use what best suit their needs?
      • Re:GPL popularity? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by squiggleslash (241428) on Friday January 30, 2004 @01:45PM (#8136458) Homepage Journal
        OpenSSH, I believe, has a BSD style license. However, it requires the addition of OpenSSL, which does have an incompatable license. I suspect in time Theo will try to move OpenSSH away from depending upon OpenSSL for precisely that reason. Remember the baby mulching machine argument.

        Mozilla is dual licensed and is a good example of a project realising, a little late in the game, that there's hassles associated with customized, incompatable, licenses. The Mozilla team released they needed to support the GPL, but had problems tracing all the copyright holders so that every single element of the code could be dual licensed. I don't know if they eventually succeeded or not.

        The advantages of picking the GPL are numerous: It's entirely neutral, it does not preclude the original copyright holder from taking their own code (and code whose copyrights have been assigned to them) and releasing a proprietary version, and it's been affective legally - no company, with the exception of SCO which so far seems to be ludicrous - has ever challenged it. At the very least, it makes sense to pick a GPL-compatable license if only because it ensures your projects can interoperate with other projects with GPL-compatable licenses without a lot of bureaucracy.

        I'm not arguing incidentally that anyone shouldn't use a license that fits their needs. But there's a good argument for suggesting that most organizations that created hand-rolled copyleft licenses would have found the GPL suited their needs better. There's so much hostility directed at the GPL and so much that just seems right about doing your own thing, I think a lot of people are blinded to the idea that the GPL is a good thing.

    • Re:GPL popularity? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by squiggleslash (241428) on Friday January 30, 2004 @01:34PM (#8136326) Homepage Journal
      One of the reasons for being able to interoperate with the GPL is that it's a neutral copyleft and it's pretty much the only neutral copyleft. As long as you can interoperate with it, so can anyone else's project who also chooses either the GPL or a license that interoperates. Anyone unaware of the difference might want to, say, incorporate Darwin code into AROS, or Mozilla code into Apache.

      Really, I don't see the point of proposing new licenses every day. The more licenses we have, the less people will be able to take code from one FOSS project and use it in another. That results in a quagmire of redundant and slowly moving projects that the "open source" mindset was supposed to be a solution to, not a cause of.

      If you want anyone to use it, make it (original) X11 licensed. If you want it to stay free but would like to keep control so you can release your own proprietary extensions, GPL it (and ask code donators reassign copyrights to you.) And if you want to make it stay free and easily defended and have no intention of releasing proprietary versions, GPL it and donate the copyrights to the FSF.

      XFree86's decision to adopt yet another license ultimately causes confusion and may harm both itself and free and open source software, depending on exactly what the consequences of the license are.

      • Re:GPL popularity? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by iSwitched (609716)
        Maybe because some developers who believe in open-source as a development-methodology think the the FSF is so bound by mind-numbing ideology as to not represent the true beliefs of some of us in the community?

        I've got nothing against the GPL, its a fine license if you want your code to to be bound to a particular belief system. But it sickens me when Stallman et-al trots out the concept of 'Free-as-in-Freedom' in reference to the GPL. I'll thank them to STOP abusing the notion of Freedom in advertising the
  • by Chris_Jefferson (581445) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:14PM (#8135390) Homepage
    This isn't a troll, but seriously, why should it be GPL compatable? The only way to be GPL compatable is to have a licence where the software can re-licensed under the GPL. The GPL states it can only be linked with other software under the GPL (or under a licence which basically means the same thing)

    If the GPL is unwilling to be compatable with anyone else, why should anyone be too worried about being compatable with the GPL.

    Remember. Open source =\= GPL.
    • by be-fan (61476) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:21PM (#8135465)
      The BSD license, and the MIT license are both GPL compatible. In fact, most licenses more liberal than the GPL are compatible with it. Being GPL compatible simply means that you can include that code in GPL'ed code. For developers, having the X license be GPL-compatible is a good thing.

      Of course, this issue brings up some schisms between the GPL and BSD communities. However, I find the attitude of the BSD proponents on this subject somewhat strange. By choosing the BSD license, you are giving people the right to do whatever they want with their work. This means that company could take your code and include it in a proprietory app, without releasing improvements back to the community. By their decision to license under BSD, developers indicate that they are okay with this. Why, then, should any of them get mad that other developers would include BSD code in GPL'ed programs? Is GPL worse than propietory???
      • GPL code is not worse than propietory by itself. What is bad is that some people (including myself) see the aim of the GPL to make all open-source code eventually end up under the GPL. Already increasing numbers of useful libraries are being GPLed. Just because open-source is good doesn't mean we want every piece of open source code under the GPL.
        • Already increasing numbers of useful libraries are being GPLed

          well, libraries usually realeased under the lgpl [gnu.org] - which is designed to be less viral than the gpl. give the lgpl a read. it's a Good Thing for libraries.

      • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:42PM (#8135715) Homepage
        The BSD license, and the MIT license are both GPL compatible. In fact, most licenses more liberal than the GPL are compatible with it.

        Actually this is not really the case if you take GPL seriously. GPL is like a prion, anything it touches is meant to turn into itself. The whole objective of GPL is deliberately and explicitly to prevent commercial exploitation. If you think differently then you have never met RMS in person and listened to him for more than 30 minutes.

        I used to share an office building with RMS. I think the only person who really takes RMS and the GPL seriously is Bill Gates. Bill does believe in IP rights and so he takes the GPL as RMS intends it to be read, not as most people read it.

        Take the linked screed on the 'advertisement' clause. Not having an advertisement clause is the single biggest mistake we made with the Web. If libwww had had an advertisement clause Marc Andressen and NCSA could not have plagarised the work in the way they did, they would have had to tell people that the majority of the code in Mosaic had been written at CERN. With no advertisement clause there was no requirement to tell anyone about CERN and so until about 1995 almost every press report on the Web either did not mention Tim Berners-Lee and CERN at all or did so as an afterthought.

        Meanwhile Marc Andressen created a huge PR machine at Netscape dedicated to promoting Marc as the lone inventor of the Web. The fact that Eric Bina not Marc really wrote Mosaic was also rewritten. Netscape even sponsored a book to promote this revisionist history - see Architects of the Web, not only is there no chapter on Tim, the only time he is mentioned is to attack him with lies.

        So no, do not take RMS's advice he has only a slight connection with reality. RMS believes in a version of anti-corporativist activism that is considered fringe by the type of people who still believe that there is no difference between Al Gore and George Bush, and plan to vote for Ralph Nader in November.

        So no, not being GPL compatible is not a bug, it is something very positive that should be applauded.

        As for RMS's rant on the advertising clause, it would be very easy to write a C macro and some perl scripts that compile the relevant notice section automatically. BSD does not tell every user what it is the product of Berkley every time they start a shell script. If it writes anything to the console during boot well who reads that anyway? All you need is a single one line command to print out the list of contributors. Call it credits or something.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Talk about trolling! You are correct in that Marc Andressen exploited the library, but totally wrong in using that to jusitfy an advertising cause.

          "Hitler and Stalin believed 2+2=4. Are you like Hitler and Stalin?"
          • by Zeinfeld (263942)
            Talk about trolling! You are correct in that Marc Andressen exploited the library, but totally wrong in using that to jusitfy an advertising cause.

            How so? You simply deny, give no evidence or explanation and accuse me of being the troll.

            I was there at CERN. I watched Marc do what he did. I lost my job at CERN when the management shut the Web down there, largely because Marc had stolen the credit.

            Don't put your code out without requiring credit, it may seem trivial to ask, you don't know how you will

            • by Srin Tuar (147269) <zeroday26@yahoo.com> on Friday January 30, 2004 @02:12PM (#8136832)

              Well, you fail to explain how the advertising clause would help you, if by your own interpretation it amounts to credits spewed by a command-line switch or in the about box. (The fine print of a commercial or add could have contained all the "CERN wrote part of this shite" disclaimers you want, wouldnt have mattered a bit )

              Secondly, you fail to explain how the GPL would not have accomplished what you sought, when in fact it is the only license that would have done so. An open code base would have certainly prevented mozilla from becoming netscape to start with.

              Thirdly, you blindly champion incompatibility with the premier technology of the open source movement (Free software), with no reason why except that it is some form of "prion". So the best you can come up with is that you get mad cow disease from the GPL.

              You chose the commercializable BSD, so you got commercialized, I cannot imagine why that should be a shock.

        • by be-fan (61476)
          When I use the term "GPL compatible" I do not mean it in the ideological sense. I mean it in the technical sense --- there is a list of licenses on the FSF website called "GPL compatible licenses." Code under these licenses can be incorporated into GPL'ed code and linked against GPL'ed code.
        • by Cyclops (1852) <rms.1407@org> on Friday January 30, 2004 @01:43PM (#8136442) Homepage
          The whole objective of GPL is deliberately and explicitly to prevent commercial exploitation. If you think differently then you have never met RMS in person and listened to him for more than 30 minutes.


          *Cough*cough*cough* The whole objective of GPL is deliberately and explicitly to prevent PROPRIETARY exploitation.

          As can be read at the Free Software Foundation's site of confusing words [gnu.org] about the word commercial [gnu.org]:
          Please don't use ``commercial'' as a synonym for ``non-free.'' That confuses two entirely different issues.


          A program is commercial if it is developed as a business activity. A commercial program can be free or non-free, depending on its license. Likewise, a program developed by a school or an individual can be free or non-free, depending on its license. The two questions, what sort of entity developed the program and what freedom its users have, are independent.

          In the first decade of the Free Software Movement, free software packages were almost always noncommercial; the components of the GNU/Linux operating system were developed by individuals or by nonprofit organizations such as the FSF and universities. But in the 90s, free commercial software started to appear.

          Free commercial software is a contribution to our community, so we should encourage it. But people who think that ``commercial'' means ``non-free'' will tend to think that the ``free commercial'' combination is self-contradictory, and dismiss the possibility. Let's be careful not to use the word ``commercial'' in that way.


          By saying what you just wrote, either you prove you have a weak understanding of english, or a deliberate intention to lie.

          And yes, quite more than 30 minutes, thank you.
        • by divec (48748)

          The whole objective of GPL is deliberately and explicitly to prevent commercial exploitation. If you think differently then you have never met RMS in person and listened to him for more than 30 minutes.

          I don't think you're right about the objective, but that's largely irrelevant to the discussion. The point is, plenty of companies base their business model on the GPL. Trolltech [trolltech.com] are a good example - having discussed licensing matters with Trolltech sales staff in a business context, I can tell you that no

      • by salimma (115327) * on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:43PM (#8135722) Homepage Journal
        However, I find the attitude of the BSD proponents on this subject somewhat strange.
        I'm sure this applies only to a vocal minority.. we have Linux/GPL zealots on one side, BSD zealots on the other.
        Is GPL worse than propietory???
        Ever noticed how in the Middle Ages the Church was much more concerned with suppressing heresies rather than battling infidels? (the Spanish Inquisition was the tip of the iceberg, really, nothing more). Ideas similar to yours but different enough could be your worst enemies; after all, they compete for similar ecological niches, biologically speaking.
      • Openssl (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Srin Tuar (147269) <zeroday26@yahoo.com> on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:54PM (#8135813)
        Read the openssl license sometimes.

        The author of that license seems to hold a deep grudge against the GPL, and specifically coded his license to make it incompatible (explicitly!!).

        Anecdotally, it actually seems very common for BSD advocates to hate on the GPL. GPL users have no problem incorporating most BSD stuff with compatible licenses, because the product is GPL'd its not going to bother them.

        The BSD crowd dont seem to be afraid that proprietary interests will advance the code such that the free version atrophies, but they do seem concerned that a rebadged GPL version could do just that: become the new "official" version. That would preclude any more commercial forking they had planned.

        Personally, I thought the commercial fork pipe-dream was last used successfully by bill joy. I dont know why it still has so many adherents- proprietary is clearly not the wave of the future.
        • Re: Openssl (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Delphiki (646425)
          It seems to me like the main reason for BSD advocates to dislike the GPL is that it essentially says "We're writing free software, but your software is too free, so you can't use our code. But we'll take plenty of your code." The GPL is supposed to keep proprietary software from taking from free software and not giving back their work, but the GPL doesn't allow work under it to be given back to the non-GPL open source community.
      • by Brandybuck (704397) on Friday January 30, 2004 @03:16PM (#8137595) Homepage Journal
        However, I find the attitude of the BSD proponents on this subject somewhat strange.

        As a BSD proponent, let me try to explain. The reality is quite different from the deluge of out-of-the-arse assumptions being thrown about.

        I want to use the BSD license for my own code. The reasons are numerous, but at the top of the list is because I don't want to impose any restriction upon my users. I could care less what license you use, or your friend uses, or RMS uses, or even Bill Gates uses. All I care about is the freedom to make my code as unrestrictive as possible.

        Enter the GPL. If it's an application that I am merely using, I could care less. If it's code that I would like to incorporate into my own work, I cannot, so I don't. Depending on how much I want to incorporate the code, this can range from a slight annoyance to a major peeve. The GPL is a brand that says "members only". For an unrestricted OS like FreeBSD or OpenBSD, great care must be taken that no necessary components are under the GPL or "infected" by the GPL, because the OS as a whole is no longer unrestricted.

        I don't think GPL developers are any different in this attitude, if they would step outside their members only club and look around. What happens when a GPL developer runs across free software code that they wish to use, only to discover that it's not GPL-compatible? Same attitude. While the BSD license is compatible with the GPL, the GPL is not compatible with the BSD license.

        Why, then, should any of them get mad that other developers would include BSD code in GPL'ed programs?

        We don't. Or at least I don't. This has happened to me several times in the past. It doesn't bother me. However, as the original author, I do feel some small reverse consideration is in order. If the derivative code has some fixes that I would like to incorporate into the original, I have to ask for a special exception to do so. In all cases to date, this was unhesitatingly granted by the GPL authors. One some cases they were backported without me ever having to ask. Bless them!

        I would prefer that derivative works use the same license I placed on the original. But I will not demand it. I do not believe I have any moral rights to the derivative bits. I think this is the biggest difference between the GPL and BSD license.
    • by FreeUser (11483) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:33PM (#8135597)
      If the GPL is unwilling to be compatable with anyone else, why should anyone be too worried about being compatable with the GPL.

      The GPL has been THE reference license since probably before you were born (tongue in cheek).

      BSD and GPL are the two original free software licenses. The BSD folks have made an effort to insure that the BSD license is compatible with the GPL not because they share the GNU philosophy (they don't), but to avoid fragmenting the free software world through stupid licensing incompatibilities. FreeBSD changed their license to make it GPL compatible, and GPL v. 2 was changed likewise to be compatible with a wider range of interests (including commercial interests that are shared with the BSD community).

      The GPL is the only license many enterprises will consider releasing their erstwhile proprietary code under, as it protects them from having competitors snatch up their code and incorporate it into a competing proprietary product (in their view, competing GPLed products are not an issue, as they can reincorporate the best improvement into their GPLed product). Many of us who write code will not consider a BSD style license because we do not want our code used by freeloaders who incorporate it into non-free, proprietary products.

      There are enough (perhaps a majority, even) free software and open source developers who feel this way that the GPL is, if not the majority license, a sufficiently large piece of the OSS / FSS pie that being incompatible with it means losing a huge portion of the community's input and integration.

      FreeBSD, as vehement as their disagreement with the GPL is, chose to deliberately modify their license to make it compatible with the GPL for exactly these reasons: because there is room in the community for both views, but no reason whatsoever to fragment the community over those views.

      After all, if one licenses under a *BSD style license, and if therefor one doesn't mind having their code placed into a proprietary product, why should one mind having it incorporated into a GPLed product (unless one's goal is simply to fragment the free software world and undermine the cooperation that makes it so effective).

      Which makes one wonder about the motives of someone who would post such an inane comment actively encouraging such small minded thinking ("we don't use their license, we don't like them, so why should we cooperate!") ... unless you are someone who feels threatened by free software in general, or people who differ from your vision of free software in particular, and therefor prefer fragmentation over cooperation.
      • I feel I have to reply to this (particularily because part of it is being aimed at me).

        I have nothing against co-operation, nothing at all. However it often seems that "co-operation" is in fact just complying the the GPL.

        The most obvious method of this is that everyone always discusses being "GPL-compatable". I always considered compatability as a 2-way street.

        While I'm here and people may be reading my message, I'll take the opportunity to ask a question I've been wondering about for a while :)

        The GPL
        • Now I'm sure I've made a mistake there, but I've never been able to find out what it was :)

          Your mistake is not reading the license. The GPL says nothing about the code "being re-licensable under later versions of the GPL" it's the COPYING file in most software that says this. The linux kernel is a notable exception since it's licensed under GPL v2 and nothing else:

          From the kernel 2.6.0's COPYING file:

          Also note that the only valid version of the GPL as far as the kernel is concerned is _thi

      • by Anonymous Coward
        drat... moderated a "funny", so now I post AC... anyway...

        You make the point that BSD v. GPL license is a *choice* by the developer. It should be a well thought-out choice based on your goals. You say:

        Many of us who write code will not consider a BSD style license because we do not want our code used by freeloaders who incorporate it into non-free, proprietary products.


        That's a good reason for the GPL. That's the place the GPL makes sense.

        But, what if your first priority is widest possible influen
        • Absolutely (Score:4, Insightful)

          by FreeUser (11483) on Friday January 30, 2004 @02:13PM (#8136849)
          That's a good reason for the GPL. That's the place the GPL makes sense.

          But, what if your first priority is widest possible influence? For instance, you are trying to propagate a new protocol far and wide. In that case, I believe, that you would be wise to BSD the reference implementation.


          Absolutely! The Ogg-Vorbis folks did this very thing.

          Perhaps I didn't make it as clear as I intended. Both licenses have their place, both are good, and fragmenting the community through incompatabilities because one doesn't like the GPL would be a disservice to both the GPL and *BSD communities (as both do cross-polinate one another, with ideas and code).

          Dual licensing is appropriate in some cases. BSD licensing is appropriate in some cases, and GPL is apporpriate in some cases.

          What isn't appropriate is to advocate allowing folks to make free software proprietary, and with the next breath decrying folks who wish to take the same software and relicense it with vastly less draconian restrictions, but nevertheless more restrictions than it had originally (i.e. the GPL).

          Choice is important, and the best way to maximize people's choices is to keep our free licenses as compatible as possible, and compatability withh the GPL, as one of the two fundamental reference licenses of the free software community (FreeBSD being the other), and as the license under which a large portion of the free software in the world is licensed under, is a very important part of that.

          The FreeBSD folks, much to their credit, recognized that a long time ago. Alas, some of the more zealos folks in their ranks (along with some of the more zealous folks in the GPL ranks, and certainly the numerous agents provocateurs folks like Microsoft have seeded our ranks with), will probably never recognize (or at least never admit) as much.
      • Which makes one wonder about the motives of someone who would post such an inane comment actively encouraging such small minded thinking ("we don't use their license, we don't like them, so why should we cooperate!") ... unless you are someone who feels threatened by free software in general, or people who differ from your vision of free software in particular, and therefor prefer fragmentation over cooperation.

        While I (consiously) use only GPL-compatible licenses myself, I am a firm believer in the impor

        • And, frankly, I can understand why some people are a little pissed of, even if I don't share their feelings. From the point of view of a developer using a BSD-style, permissive license, GPLed code is just as impossible to integrate as proprietary code is, so there already is a schism in "the community". Cooperation between GPL and BSD (or rather, copyleft and permissive) projects is effectively a one-way street.

          I, frankly, do not understand why the BSD-License zealots (which are a tiny fraction of the BSD
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Any good copy left license will require sublicensing by that license as a requirement for compatibility. It is too hard to capture the concept of copy left in any other way.

      GPL keeps source open, that might not be everyone's definition of open source ... but lots of people like that aspect, and there is plenty of worthwhile GPL software out there some of which even the XFree developers use. It is the choice to suddenly change to an incompatible which needs the justification IMO.
  • Contributed code (Score:5, Interesting)

    by __past__ (542467) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:15PM (#8135400)
    "All XFree86 contributors are invited to review the changes, and notify us of errors and omissions so that they can be corrected before the 4.4.0 release."
    Um, wouldn't all contributors have to actively agree with a license change which affects their contributions, i.e. code they are the copyright owner of? Or did XFree86 require contributors to hand over their right, like many GNU projects do?
    • Re:Contributed code (Score:2, Informative)

      by tepples (727027)

      From the article: "The license change applies to the base XFree86 license, and to source files that explicitly carry a copyright notice in the name of The XFree86 Project, Inc. Copyrights and licenses in the names of others will not be affected by this change."

    • Re:Contributed code (Score:5, Informative)

      by geoffspear (692508) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:37PM (#8135655) Homepage
      Well, since the original license was a BSD license, no. Anyone can take their code and redistribute it under any license they want to, including one that specifically forbids the original developers from using the new distribution. The BSD license isn't designed to protect the "rights" of the developers, it's designed to let anyone use the source in any way they want to.
      • There must be more to it as you cannot just remove the BSD license from the source. You may wrap the license with another license, but the original must stay on the code. If they are replacing it, they must have the approval of all the copyright holders.
    • Re:Contributed code (Score:4, Informative)

      by Florian Weimer (88405) <fw@deneb.enyo.de> on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:51PM (#8135772) Homepage
      Um, wouldn't all contributors have to actively agree with a license change which affects their contributions, i.e. code they are the copyright owner of?

      The previous license explicitly allowed sublicensing, and the XFree86 Project is doing exactly that.
  • Not advertising.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by juhaz (110830) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:17PM (#8135419) Homepage
    This only seems to concern documentation, not ads, so the problems described on the FSF page are not quite as bad - full page of credits on ad may be bad, but full page of credits among hundreds of other pages of documentation isn't nearly as big deal.

    Anyway this seems to be rather stupid move, XFree86 seems to have enough problems (infighting, resulting diverting and forks...) already without any license trouble. If it ends up incompatible, all the more reason to concentrate on those, if the XFree86 folks want to shoot themselves to foot and slowly bleed to death, it's their choice - very stupid one but it's their nevertheless.
    • by happyfrogcow (708359) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:22PM (#8135475)
      f the XFree86 folks want to shoot themselves to foot and slowly bleed to death, it's their choice

      wouldn't an X client have to request to the X server to be shot in the foot, wait a while for a gun to be rendered on the local display then be shot in the foot?
    • if the XFree86 folks want to shoot themselves to foot and slowly bleed to death, it's their choice - very stupid one but it's their nevertheless.

      I seriously doubth that the XFree89 folks are as stupid as you are making them out to be.

      Decisions like this aren't just pulled out of thin air. I'm sure that they put some research into and that they believe it is the best decision for the project.
    • Thanks for opening my eyes to this. The first thing I noticed was that the new license looked suspiciously like the old BSD license. The advertisement contained in that is indeed very bad.

      However, the requirement of mentioning the origins of your code along with other credits (note that it allows putting the credit in other places than the documentation as well) seems very reasonable.

      As far as GPL-compatibility is concerned, the new license might still be compatible. At any rate, it shouldn't be a big iss
  • by Fluffy the Cat (29157) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:19PM (#8135444) Homepage
    The requirement to add an acknowledgement (often called the "advertising clause") is something that's not present in the GPL. The GPL states that GPLed code may only be distributed if further requirements or restrictions above and beyond the GPL are not made. It's therefore impossible to satisfy the terms of both licenses simultaneously, and therefore the extra clause makes the new XFree license GPL incompatible.

    Now, why's this a problem? The XFree project doesn't include GPLed code itself, so there are no concerns from that point of view. However, if any of the code in the X libraries falls under this new license, then the FSF's interpretation of the GPL means that you wouldn't be able to link any GPLed program against the X libraries and distribute it. That's fairly bad.

    On the plus side, the freedesktop.org x libraries were branched from XFree before the license change - as a result, we can pretty much guarantee that there will be libraries available that can be used with GPLed code. The end result would probably be to reduce the amount of XFree code in a distribution, rather than to increase the credit that the XFree project wants. It's almost certainly a counter-productive move.

    • > The end result would probably be to reduce the amount of XFree code in a distribution, rather than to increase the credit that the XFree project wants. It's almost certainly a counter-productive move.

      Didn't they already cave in on another license issue several years ago, since the primary effect would have been to isolate themselves?

      • How can they cave when they're just pointing out incompatabilities in the licenses?

        QT was a connundrum, it might be what you were thinking of, but there were a lot of license changes, eventually they became compatible.

        (Re: Homer and Krusty. Matt Groening mentions it in the commentary track on one of the Simpson's DVD's... I think the second season. He said something along the lines that originally Homer was going to be Krusty, to work the angle of "a kid's hero turns out to be his father", but he dump

    • Actually the GPL section 1 requires you to: publish on each copy an approriate copyright notice

      This applies to both source and binary distribution. While this is not a real a advertising clause it does require you to acknowledge the original author of the program. So even with the GPL you have the problem of many copyright sentences in combined programs.

  • by SLot (82781) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:20PM (#8135450) Homepage Journal
    Version 1.1 of XFree86 Project License.

    Copyright (C) 1994-2004 The XFree86 Project, Inc.
    All rights reserved.

    Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

    1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions, and the following disclaimer.
    2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution, and in the same place and form as other copyright, license and disclaimer information.
    3. The end-user documentation included with the redistribution, if any, must include the following acknowledgment: "This product includes software developed by The XFree86 Project, Inc (http://www.xfree86.org/) and its contributors", in the same place and form as other third-party acknowledgments. Alternately, this acknowledgment may appear in the software itself, in the same form and location as other such third-party acknowledgments.
    4. Except as contained in this notice, the name of The XFree86 Project, Inc shall not be used in advertising or otherwise to promote the sale, use or other dealings in this Software without prior written authorization from The XFree86 Project, Inc.

    THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED ``AS IS'' AND ANY EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE XFREE86 PROJECT, INC OR ITS CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.

  • Babelfished (Score:5, Informative)

    by BoldAC (735721) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:20PM (#8135454)
    Is there a way to post a babelfished link? Does google do tranlation stuff yet?

    Anyway... enjoy.

    =-=-=

    Does XFree86 GPL become incompatible?
    Sent of demon at the Fr, 30 January 2004 around 10:21

    Durch a change of the license regulations will will become the coming version of XFree86 incompatible to the well-known GPL and a linking of GPL applications to XFree86 "problematic".
    Hardly the turbulences in the XFree86-Lager grew silent, seem a further controversy from the fence to to break. As David Dawes of the XFree86-Projekt communicated, the XFree86-Projekt changes its license on a new version 1.1. A change of the license represents no point at issue in the reason still, became nevertheless already in the past restrictive licenses of liberals. This time the situation seems to be however more problematic, because XFree86 becomes more restrictive.

    As license can be taken further very much from the liberal, can be changed, driven out and applied all programs under the "XFree86 License 1,1" without publication of the source code. Again was added however a clause, which means that each distribution and each product, which contain XFree86 must attach a note either in the documentation or in the application on XFree86 ("This product includes software developed by The XFree86 Project, Inc. (http://www.xfree86.org/) and its contributors"). That is problematic, as the Free software Foundation already meant in another case.

    The organization had not GPL compatibly classified the first version of the BSD license in the past as and had expressed substantial doubts against a linking of GPL- and BSD applications. The famous "BSD advertising clause" does not make the license unfree, cause however practical problems, including an incompatibility with the GNU GPL, so the Foundation. In the past the Free software Foundation guessed/advised to use the straight XFree86-Lizenz because it was to a large extent with the BSD license compatible and the notorious clause does not contain. Thus conclusion might probably be, because a determination of the BSD clause as "GPL incompatible" makes automatically also the new XFree86-Lizenz for GPL applications "problematic".

    Which follows from the earlier declaration of the BSD license, could extensive consequences both for the Distributoren as well as for other manufacturers have. Thus GPL applications may be linked against an GPL incompatible library, this require however a note in the source code - a condition, which will fulfill hardly an application. If this note is not contained, linking is not permitted.

    Thus either if XFree86 should not change their license or the Free software Foundation their declaration, then the current version of XFree86 will be probably also last release delivered by the Distributoren. Because it is questionable whether Distributoren get involved in a "problematic" use. Options during a non--change might be either freedesktop.org, Xouvert or a new Fork. Not completely averse would be also the developers. As pro Linux from KDE Entwicklerkreisen experienced, also they are not with XFree86 content and think ever more frequently about one transferred to freedesktop.org. (thanks at Rene.)

  • "some worries" would require a trip here [google.com] to read it in (semi-)English?
  • by NNKK (218503) <nknight@runawaynet.com> on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:25PM (#8135505) Homepage
    I'm not sure it's GPL-compatible, nor do I particularly care if it is or not, but this isn't the same as the original BSD advertising clause at all, and is nowhere near as annoying.

    Here's the original BSD clause:

    3. All advertising materials mentioning features or use of this software must display the following acknowledgement: This product includes software developed by the University of California, Berkeley and its contributors.

    And here's the new XFree86 clause:

    3. The end-user documentation included with the redistribution, if any, must include the following acknowledgment: "This product includes software developed by The XFree86 Project, Inc (http://www.xfree86.org/) and its contributors", in the same place and form as other third-party acknowledgments. Alternately, this acknowledgment may appear in the software itself, in the same form and location as other such third-party acknowledgments.

    The problem with the original clause 3 of the BSD license is that it could lead to massive lists of acknowledgements tacked on to an advertisement meant to be fairly compact (e.g. a leaflette, banner ad, sign, billboard, whatever). This isn't the case with the new XFree86 license clause 3, where it only requires acknowledgement in the documentation or the software itself. While keeping track of those acknowledgements might prove difficult at times, it has nowhere NEAR the practical problems that the original BSD license had.

    • The end-user documentation included with the redistribution, if any, must include the following acknowledgment:

      Whhheww... All of my projects are already compliant!

    • This isn't the case with the new XFree86 license clause 3, where it only requires acknowledgement in the documentation or the software itself. While keeping track of those acknowledgements might prove difficult at times, it has nowhere NEAR the practical problems that the original BSD license had.

      You are right, it isn't as immediately bad as the original BSD clause, but it does appear nevertheless to be incompatible with the GPL, and therefor with a huge volume of free and open source software development
  • by Galaga88 (148206) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:26PM (#8135515)
    A GPL inkompatibel XMoose86 once bit my sister... No realli!...Mynd you, XMoose86 bites Kan be pretty nasti...
  • Advertising clause (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geoffspear (692508) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:26PM (#8135516) Homepage
    I don't see the sort of problem in the new license that the page from GNU mentions. The old BSD license required a statement in advertising, which would cause problems if a project was composed of modules from a bunch of different BSD-style licensed projects and an ad for the new project was required to include a huge number of diclosures.

    The new XFree86 license requires a statement in end user documentation, which is completely different. You can't really argue that adding a bunch of disclosures about where the modules you're using to your documentation is a huge burden. It doesn't add a substantial cost to your documentation, even if it's distributed in a printed form, unlike the cost of adding a page of disclosures to an ad.

    • You would be right if it included only one line in the manual. But what if it doesnt stop there. from the announcement:

      XFree86 contributors
      are also encouraged to review the license change, and let us know if
      they wish to make similar changes to licenses in their name


      so they are already planning to add extra lines.
      And this is only for one program. how many of those lines can fit in the end-users documentation before it becomes annoying.

  • ...whether certain recent high-profile disputes over code ownership might have changed a few people's attitudes to the importance of attribution?

    That is, if every file has a mandatory 75-line list of copyrights, would it be harder to accuse it of being stolen?

    Now in reality, the Linux kernel source code has a fair bit of copyright information plastered all over the headers, so in practice the litigious bastards [sco.com] such as those I alluded to above wouldn't pay any attention to details like that. But different
  • This is the major problem with open-source software. All the project decide to make their own license so they can set special terms. This will only cause problems. If they would all agree on one license (GPL or not) then it would be much easier to get excited about using open-source software because I wouldn't have to read all the licenses to make sure they are compatible with each other. I also wouldn't have to worry about using a particular piece of software in an illegal manner because I would learn fro
    • This is hardly an open source problem. Open source software have a few big licences which are used very often. And there are a few not so often used. closed source is the one which have a new licence for every program.
    • This problem doesn't seem to have impaired proprietary software, where every project/company usually invents its own license as well.

      Open source is actually a lot easier, at least if you see an "OSI approved" label, you have some guarantees about what you are allowed to do. And in practice, most projects use one of the GPL, LGPL, BSD/MIT-style or Apache license anyway.

  • by 0utlaw (688978) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:35PM (#8135625)

    If they go with a more proprietary license, they should probably also change their name to Ex-Free86. :P

  • as yoinked from babelfish:
    http://babelfish.altavista.com/babelfish/urltrurl ? url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pro-linux.de%2Fnews%2F2004%2F 6414.html&lp=de_en&tt=url [altavista.com]


    ----

    Does XFree86 GPL become incompatible?
    Sent of demon [mailto] at the Fr, 30 January 2004 around 10:21

    Does a change of the license regulations will will become the coming version of XFree86 incompatible to the well-known GPL and a linking of GPL applications to XFree86 "problematic".

    Hardly the turbulences in the XFree86-Lager [pro-linux.de] grew silent,

  • by dmeranda (120061) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:39PM (#8135673) Homepage

    Can somebody explain why this new 1.1 license is necessarily incompatible with GPL2 / LGPL [fsf.org]? True, it is an annoying licence change as the FSF article explains, and may not be a smart move for the project. But annoying doesn't make it incompatible. And no one even said (that I can determine) that original flawed BSD license was in fact incompatible; just undesirable.

    In fact, this seems to be less restrictive than the GNU FDL [fsf.org] license for documentation. It's not the same as past famous GPL-incompatible licenses, such as an old version of the Python license.

    • The GPL specifically says that no futher restrictions on use of the code may be added by a redistributor or creator of a derived work.

      So if you want to combine some GPL code from one project with the X source unedr this (stupid) new license, and distribute a derived work of the two you will be afoul of both copyrights and the owner of either could insist you cease distribution.

      • Maybe my legalese isn't up to snuff, or maybe you're paraphrasing, but the way I read that I don't see the problem.

        XFree is not a derived work of GPL'd code. Now, if you create a derived work from XFree, you (the redistributor or creator) are not adding any restrictions. The restrictions were already there. And regardless, its *still* not a derived work of GPL'd code. As I read it, this clause prevents you from taking, say, Emacs, and adding your own clause that says 'everyone who uses this source must
    • Because it requires you to do things that the GPL does not require, and the GPL doesn't allow this. It does not matter whether something is annoying (or even non-free) or not, the point is that works derived from GPLed software must only be distributed under a license that has no requirements that the GPL doesn't have.
      • What counts as "derived from"? Just extensions to XFree? You could pretty convincingly argue that stuff that links against standard X libraries isn't a derived work: it could equally use commercial X server libraries, XFree libraries or unrestrictive fd.o or XOuvert libraries.
        That would mean it wasn't a problem for widget libraries like GTK or Qt, or for application writers, unless (possibly) they're using some weird XFree-only extension.

        So this sounds like it's just an internal matter for the XFree team w
  • by mmurphy000 (556983) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:41PM (#8135694)
    This does seem to be a step backward in time. Some projects, notably BSD and Apache, had "advertising clauses" like the new XFree one, but removed them. It seems odd that, in light of those moves away from this sort of thing, that XFree would elect to move toward it.

    That being said, one would hope that the continued work on the next generation of GPL will consider whether or not "advertising clauses" will really result in GPL incompatibility. The mission of the FSF and the GPL is to make sure that the code can be freely used and reused. It's unclear how requiring positive attribution would interfere with that. Aren't there options for that sort of thing in FSF's Free Documentation License?

    Admittedly, it's a slippery slope -- imagine a license with a clause requiring binaries be accompanied by a message advocating a particular political position. Or a particular sexual position, for that matter...

  • by pavon (30274) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:48PM (#8135753)
    Contributors: You said the code would be left in the CVS under our supervision!
    XFree86: We are altering the license. Pray we don't alter it any further.
  • Oh no! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aanand (705284) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:54PM (#8135809) Homepage
    Imagine if a software system required 75 different sentences, each one naming a different author or group of authors. To advertise that, you would need a full-page ad.

    Christ. And I was worried about Iraq, gun control and third-world starvation for a moment there.
    • Re:Oh no! (Score:3, Insightful)

      This is free software, done for the community good. If I work thousands of hours to get some software that the community may use, and all I ask is a 1 line blurb that says "written by me" that doesn't seem unrerasonable. If you want to piggyback on hours of coding and testing by someone else, you put in a couple lines in some doc file someplace. Doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

      Any gnu software I get has the entire GPL license which inclues some of their manifesto, and a COPYING file in the distro. How
  • by Mox-Dragon (87528) on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:56PM (#8135825)
    Here is a human-translated version of the german article:

    The upcoming version of XFree86 is, due to a change in the licensing agreement, incompatible with the well-known GPL, and linking GPL applications with XFree86 will present itself as "problematic."

    The troubles in the XFree-86 camp have just died down, but a further problem is beating at the gates. As David Dawes from the XFree-86 Project shared, the XFree-86 Project is changing its license to a new version 1.1. A change in the license does not, in principle, present a reason for causing problems, restrictive licensces have become more liberal in the past. The situation is, however, this time more problematic - the XFree86 license is getting more restrictive.

    The license can still be seen as very liberal - all programs under the "XFree86 License 1.1" can be used, published, and advertised without the publication of the source code. A new addition, however, is a clause which states that every distribution and every product that contain XFree86 must affix a remark, either in the documentation or in the application ("This product includes software developed by The XFree86 Project, Inc (http://www.xfree86.org/) and its contributors"). This is problematic, as the Free Software Foundation has remarked in another case.

    The organization has classified the first version of the BSD license as not GPL-compatible in the past, and expressed doubts reguarding the linking of GPL and BST applications. The famous "BSD Advertising Clause" doesn't make the license non-free, but causes ither problems, including an incompatability with the GNU GPL, and for that reason the foundation [GNU] has asked the Free Software Foundation in the past to use the XFree86 license, because it is largely compatible with the BSD license and does not include the feared advertising clause. And with that may be the end, because assigning the BSD-clause as "GPL incompatible" makes the new XFree86 License for GPL applications automatically problematic.

    The resolts of the earlier BSD License's declaration could have far-reaching effects for the distributors as well as for other manufacturers. GPL applications are allowed to be linked to a GPL incompatible library, with the need for a remark in the source code - a condition that will be met by very few applications. When the remark is not present, the linking is not allowed.

    If XFree86 doesn't change its license, and the Free Software Foundation doesn't change its declaration, then the latest version of XFree86 will also be the last release rolled out by the distributors, because it is questionable whether distributors will get involved with a "problematic" use of the software. When the license is not changed, the options will be either freedesktop.org, Xouvert, or a new fork. Developers could be not entirely dissatisfied. As Pro-Linux from KDE-developer circles experienced, the developers are also not entirely satisfied with XFree86 and are still thinking about changing to freedesktop.org (thanks to rene.)
  • If the new license is generally seen to be GPL incompatible, this could make things more difficult for GPL projects such as fbcon, DirectFB or even mplayer's output drivers that are based on drivers from XFree86.
  • by Richard_at_work (517087) * <<richardprice> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday January 30, 2004 @12:59PM (#8135862)
    ...Write your own code.

    Ive heard that said so many times to people who have expressed a desire to use GPL code but dislike the GPL license. Why doesnt that apply here? It doesnt have to be GPL compatable, and if anyone dislikes that, they are free to extend the GPL compatable version, or write their own implementation.
  • Many X implementations are proprietary (although they stem from the MIT code base). There has never been a problem linkingGNU software with these libraries. They are part of the operating system, and there's a special exception in the GPL for such libraries.
    • Mod parent up please (Score:3, Interesting)

      by adrianbaugh (696007)
      This will only affect contributors to XFree itself. XFree isn't the only X implementation and therefore stuff that links against X libraries can't be considered a derived work of XFree any more than it can be considered a derived work of a commercial X server or of XOuvert or fd.o's X server.
  • Repost (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vslashg (209560) * on Friday January 30, 2004 @01:01PM (#8135899)
    I'm reposting an AC post that got modded down to -1 but contained a valid point:
    im sorry, this is the guy who wants us to say 'GNU/Linux' but he doesnt want people to put their name on the software they write? what EXACTLY is the problem with putting your name on stuff? The quickly-displayed credits screen is only there for a half second on bootup.
    Also (and again taking this argument from another poster), the argument [gnu.org] given by the FSF against advertising clauses is
    Imagine if a software system required 75 different sentences, each one naming a different author or group of authors. To advertise that, you would need a full-page ad.
    But this new XFree86 license doesn't require a statement on any advertising. Just in small print somewhere in your documentation, or else buried somewhere in your program. The only size/style/location requirement is that you get the same style attribution that all other third-party attributions get.

    I don't see any moral difference between RMS insisting that you call the operating system "GNU/Linux" and the XFree86 people insisting they get credit for their work. (Technically I see a difference, as there's nothing forcing you to call it GNU/Linux. But morally it's the same thing.)
    • Re:Repost (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MSG (12810) on Friday January 30, 2004 @01:42PM (#8136427)
      Technically I see a difference, as there's nothing forcing you to call it GNU/Linux. But morally it's the same thing.

      I'm glad there's no "morality" clause in the GPL. Such a thing would lead to developers taking liberties with the software so licensed and arguing their case on moral grounds.

      The GPL is very clear: In order for another license to be compatible, it must not place restrictions on users or developers above or beyond those of the GPL. The advertising clause does so. Regardless of how you judge it to be moral or immoral, convenient or inconvenient, additional restrictions/requirements are just that, and are not compatible with the GPL.

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