[josm-dev] License clarification for JOSM plugins

Giovanni Mascellani g.mascellani at gmail.com
Mon Apr 14 19:41:40 BST 2008

Hi Fredrik,

It seems to me that your mail was a bit aggressive. Sorry if I somehow
offended you, believe me that it wasn't my intention. :-)

All'incirca Mon, 14 Apr 2008 19:58:10 +0200,  Frederik Ramm
<frederik at remote.org> sembrerebbe aver scritto:

> Do I understand this correctly: Software can only be included in
> Debian if it is "GPL v2 or later", and "GPL v2 only" is not enough?

Well, in general software can be distributed in Debian if it is
DFSG-compatible[1]: both GPL-2 and GPL-3 are so. I'm not asking to
relicense JOSM, but just to make the license clearer.

 [1] http://www.debian.org/social_contract#guidelines

> I'm generally open to clarifying the license to be "GPL v2 or later",
> but I have a sort of philosophical problem with it. Debian is one
> distribution of many. Why should *we* do a lot of work so that *they*
> have the GPL v3 clean distribution *they* want? 

No, Debian is not wanting to make a GPL-3 distribution, as GPL-2 is
fine. I'm just asking to have more clearly expressed licensing terms.
However, if your answer will be "no", I'll accept your "no". I don't
have the power and surely don't want to enforce you to do some modifies
for Debian. But I'd like if you could do it, in a completely friendly
matter. :-)

> What if they decide tomorrow that they'd rather have "GPL v2 only", or
> what if another distribution of similar importance says they only
> include software that uses 8.3 naming convention or something... do we
> then make these changes as well?

I think there are some differences between specifying more clearly a
license and making effective changes to the code. I'm just asking you
to know better my rights on the code you've wrote (and I thank you for
having written the code and having decided to distribute it as a free

> Generally, the OSM spirit is: We do what we want, and if somebody
> wants to use our data, they're free to work with it. If somebody comes
> in and says "but I can't use your data because you have UTF-8 in your
> tags" then we say "tough luck, live with it or find another project". 

My understanding of freedom in general is: "We do what we want; is
somebody wants to use our software/data/whatever else is free to do it;
and if someone makes a proposal on how to (possibly) making our work
better, we listen to his proposal and decide if it is good or not".
Mine was only a question, you're free to ask me "no". But, please,
consider if it is a good decision or not!

Again, I don't want you to do anything. I'm _asking_ you to do
something, and I think that collaboration and clearness is a good idea
when working on something. Though, you're free to refuse. But I'm not
asking about implementing something new, just about being clear in
legal statements.

> Is Debian important enough to deviate from the way we usually do
> things? Does it warrant an exception? Or is it just a bunch of guys
> overestimating their importance? We can still make our software
> available to Debian users through a repository of our own... do we
> want to jump through the hoops they put up?

Well, maintaining a big, complex and quality system is not easy.
Policies in Debian were not invented by cynics people who liked to see
others suffering in packaging software for Debian, but are needed to
keep the whole system maintainable and coherent. Anyway, the difficulty
of maintaining the package is up to me, Andreas and Petter. Take this
(and all the subsequent) as a simple request of improving the quality of
the upstream distribution of JOSM: if you think they're worth the
effort, please do it. If you don't, I'm sorry for this, but decision is
yours! :-)

About the decision to put JOSM into Debian, I think that many Debian
users like to have the programs they use directly in their
distribution. Using third-parties repository doesn't give you the
possibility to use the Debian BTS, doesn't give you the same quality
assurances that official Debian packages must comply, can be lesser
integrated with the system than official repositories.

Anyway, please be assured that I'm grateful to you all JOSM developers
for your efforts in maintaining this program. I use it frequently and
am very satisfied of it! :-)

Regards, Giovanni.
Giovanni Mascellani <g.mascellani at gmail.com>
Pisa, Italy

Web: http://giomasce.altervista.org
SIP: g.mascellani at ekiga.net
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