[d@DCC] Perils of licensing software
Brenda J. Butler
bjb at achilles.net
Wed Dec 11 01:12:33 EST 2002
On Tue, Dec 10, 2002 at 10:44:03PM -0500, Russell McOrmond wrote:
> On Tue, 10 Dec 2002, Brenda J. Butler wrote:
> > How many packages of software do we have on our computers? Debian ships
> > with several thousand separate packages, each with its own
> > license/copyright. Is it reasonable (or even possible) to have the "end
> > user" read the individual license agreements for all of these
> > individually before using them?
> The details in FLOSS license agreements aren't all that critical to "end
> users". I agree that a simplified description of the agreements as they
> relate to end users should exist in any compilation.
> Simplicity in licensing is in fact one of the features of FLOSS, and one
> that we should be promoting -- not suggesting that laws be changed to most
> likely yet again favor Software Manufacturing.
> When you are talking about Debian, you are not able to compare this to a
> 'garment', as this is more like a 'wardrobe'. The business terms under
> which you purchased each garment in your wardrobe is likely very
> different, as should be expected to be the case for an extremely large
> collection of software.
> Please do not believe for a second that any attempt to "simplify"
> software licensing will do anything other than harm or threaten the very
> existence of FLOSS. It is only because such diversity can exist in
> software licensing that Free Software exists at all!!
I'm not saying we need new laws to enforce the same license on
every software producer. I'm just saying that as a consumer,
I find the current situation unmanageable. I hope that whatever
replaces the current situation will be more manageable for the
The details in proprietary EULA's are indeed applicable to end
users. A computer full of proprietary software, with say
10 or 15 packages added on one by one over time, like tax
packages, photo gallery packages, recipe packages, ebooks,
etc. is full of EULA's that 99% of people completely
ignore as they install them. And if someone did try
to read them all, they would waste hours of time, and
mix up all the contract details in their head requiring
more hours of time scouring those EULA's to answer some
question as to whether one package is compatible with another,
This situation is a waste of time at best and a big
legal problem waiting to happen. Let's avoid it in any
solution we come up with.
I gave Debian as an example, because that is what I use,
and I know each and every package in Debian has its own
copyright notice. Fortunately, Debian has an overall
policy, and they don't include stuff into their
distribution that doesn't fit the policy. So (since
I agree with Debian's policy) I don't really have to read
all those other notices. Thank goodness.
bjb at achilles dot net
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