[svlug] a course on managing open source...

Karsten M. Self kmself at ix.netcom.com
Fri Jul 15 18:04:28 PDT 2005

on Fri, Jul 15, 2005 at 04:16:15PM -0700, Karen Shaeffer (shaeffer at neuralscape.com) wrote:
> On Fri, Jul 15, 2005 at 03:18:49PM -0700, Karsten M. Self wrote:
> > > vim license is freeware.
> > 
> > "Freeware" isn't a term with any legally significant definition.  It's
> > common usage is to describe software which can be used without charge.
> Hello Karsten,
> I presume you saw my second email.

Yes, and your description there largely agrees with my conclusion:
GPL-like, and expressly GPL-compatible.
> Anyway, check the spec file for any redhat vim*.src.rpm package,
> and you'll see redhat is defining the license as freeware. I am
> definitely not. I could care less. (chuckles ;)

Interesting, WRT RH.  

Hrm, more interesting, from FOLDOC:

    At one time, "freeware" was a trademark of Andrew Fluegelman.  It
    wasn't enforced after his death.

> After my second email, I did wonder about the discrepency. I didn't
> actually research this, but, based on just what I saw in the vim
> source code last night, and in just a few moments of browsing the net,
> charityware may not be defined in a legally binding way either. 

Right.  It's a non-operational advisory.

> That might explain why redhat generically defines the vim license in
> the vim.spec file as freeware. I don't know for sure. If you care, you
> might want to speak to the redhat folks about it.

I may just hassle them about this.  They're usually more circumspect
about this, and there are two or three extant license classification
schemes (FSF Free Software, OSI Open Source, Debian DFSG) which are
markedly more robust.

> If you find a legally well formed definition of the charityware
> license out there on the Internet, then please let us know. I would
> take the time to learn about it.

IMO there isn't one.

My interpretation (and I tried to make it clear) was that, in the best
Alice / White Knight tradition, the license calls itself charityware
(for which I see no significantly meaningful definition), it _is_ GPL
like, and it becomes (with minimal fuss) GPL.

...which pretty much underscores my initial point:  that a one-off
license for a popular (reimplmented) bit of software in effect boils
down to a case of GPL.  Which also fits the promote (BSD/MIT) vs.
reimplement (GPL) licensing distinction made earlier in this thread.


Karsten M. Self <kmself at ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    W3C standards are important -- say it proudly
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