[sword-devel] Fwd: GPL and other license related questions

jonathon jonathon.blake at gmail.com
Sun Jan 27 15:19:41 MST 2008

Greg wrote:

> The GPL thus enforces the fact that anyone else who builds software off of the backs of people who have contributed to the Sword project is required to provide that software free-of-charge.

I was going to stay out of this thread, until I read that comment.
Here is a slightly modified form of my stock  answer to people who
complain about paying for OOo.

 Free can mean one of two things:
 * Libre:
 * Gratis;

 1: Libre

 The Free Software Foundation has defined "Libre Software" as that
which meets the Four Freedoms.
 * The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
 * The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your
needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for
 * The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor
(freedom 2).
 * The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements
to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3).
Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Debian-Legal, to determine whether or not software meets _The Debian
Free Software Guidelines_, has devised the following tests:

 * "The Desert Island Test". Imagine a castaway on a desert island
with a solar-powered computer with an Internet connection that can't
upload. This would make it impossible to fulfill any requirement to
make changes publicly available or to send patches to some particular
place. This holds even if such requirements are only upon request, as
the castaway might be able to receive messages but be unable to send
them. To be free, software must be modifiable by this unfortunate
castaway, who must also be able to legally share modifications with
friends on the island.

 * "The Dissident Test". Consider a dissident in a totalitarian state
who wishes to share a modified bit of software with fellow dissidents,
but does not wish to reveal the identity of the modifier, or directly
reveal the modifications themselves, or even possession of the
program, to the government. Any requirement for sending source
modifications to anyone other than the recipient of the modified
binary ( in fact, any forced distribution at all, beyond giving source
to those who receive a copy of the binary ) would put the dissident in
danger. For Debian to consider software Free it must not require any
such excess distribution.

 * "The Tentacles of Evil Test". Imagine that the author is hired by a
large evil corporation and, now in their thrall, attempts to do the
worst to the users of the program: to make their lives miserable, to
make them stop using the program, to expose them to legal liability,
to make the program non-free, to discover their secrets, etc. The same
can happen to a corporation bought out by a larger corporation bent on
destroying free software in order to maintain its monopoly and extend
its evil empire. The license cannot allow even the author to take away
the required freedoms.

 Some people who work with content have added the following test:
 * DRM Dave's Hardware Platform:
 Can Bob & Alice upload non-DRM content?
 Can Bob & Alice download non-DRM content?
 Can Bob & Alice download DRM content?
 Can Bob & Alice upload third party DRM content?
 Can Bob & Alice download third party non-DRM content?
 Can Bob & Alice play first party non-DRM content?
 Can Bob & Alice play third party non-DRM content?
 Can Bob & Alice play third party DRM content?

 If all of those conditions are met, then it is Libre.

 2: Gratis

Whilst software that is Libre can be distributed Gratis, there is no
requirement to do so. A major issue with FLOSS is the creation of a
viable revenue stream through product sales. The person you sell FLOSS
to, can turn around and burn a million CDs, either selling them for
whatever price they so desire, or just giving them away.

You can download OOo from http://download.openoffice.org/index.html.
* There are vendors who will charge for downloading the program from
their website;
* There are vendors who will charge for the CD or DVD;
* There are vendors who will charge a per seat license fee;

How much you pay has no bearing on the amount, or type of support you
receive. I've seen CD vendors charge $0.99 and provide one hour
telephone support. I've seen CD vendors charge $500.00 and provide no

TANSTAAFL: There is the implication with FLOSS that one will support
the community. The Debian Social Contract is the best known of the
formally defined "contracts".

3: Resources
The following URLs provide additional information:
* http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html

### end of modified stock answer on selling OOo ###

I didn't strip all of the OOo specific data from that answer.

> to not work on Bible Software that works in the LGPL-like license
> model and prefer to stick with the GPL-like model, as Sword has done.

Both the GPL and LGPL allow for commercial distribution.  Or
redistribution by those who want to take, but not give.  Basically,
there is nothing in the license used by The Sword Project, that
prohibits commercial distribution --- selling any of the front ends
that The Sword Project creates.

AFAIK, e-Sword is the only Bible Study program that has a license that
explicitly prohibits commercial distribution.



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