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[Discuss] Govt Source Code Policy

Rich Pieri <richard.pieri at> writes:
>> I don't think it shows what you say unless the argument is that these
>> OASCR people are bright as hell and they don't even mention rms's
>> arguments so therefore said arguments must be crap. [snip]
> DoE-funded scientists are the same scientists who work on Fermi Linux
> (GPL), Scientific Linux (GPL), Octave (GPL), ROOT (GPL) and so forth.
> They are no strangers to various FLOSS licenses. In fact, it was their
> activities which originally brought about the DoE's OSS policies, not
> the other way around.
> Also, the exclusion of RMS's arguments does not make their argument
> crap. It means they see his arguments as crap and not worth bringing up.
> Especially since the audience is already far more familiar with RMS than
> the people at the DoE.

You're misreading or my sentence is ambiguous. That's what I'm
saying. I'm not saying the DoE arguments are crap but that the only
argument you could be making (and in fact seem to be making in this
email) by citing that document is that they (rms's arguments) must be
crap since DoE never bothers to take them up in said document. I don't
consider that an example of someone considering his arguments and
working out how they're off base. Or at least it's not a useful example
since we're not exposed to their reasoning only its after effects.

>> This is puzzling. First in its specificity: there are other software
>> licenses that seem to more or less accomplish what CC BY does.
> The GPL does not. The GPL fails to meet one of the most important
> academic criteria: recognition. What RMS calls onerous advertising is
> treasured by the academic community. That the GNU licenses permit the
> removal of recognition notices makes them unsuitable for academic works.

Well, I meant the BSD, MIT, ISC, Apache, etc. licenses here. In other
words non-copyleft licenses. Those are what I was thinking of as roughly
functionally equivalent to CC BY in the main.

When rms discusses onerous advertising he's referring to the clause in
the original 4 clause BSD license (and if he were here he'd take me to
task for earlier typing "the BSD [license]" as if there were only
one). That issue wasn't one of mentioning people in the changes file or
source files but of requiring lists of organizations to appear in your
advertising materials.

In fact is there any GNU project at all that does not keep a list of
contributors which is sacrosanct and never elided from -- or for that
matter that does not use some kind of publicly accessible source control
system? e.g. I half followed emacs-devel when they converted to git and
getting history preserved was something they seemed extremely serious
about. The GPL did not seem to interfere with this so much as the fact
that people change their name or use different emails and tags to refer
to themselves over time.

Besides which, 4 clause BSD is rejected now by all the BSDs. What in the
GPL is different from the so called permissive licenses (the ones that
are still commonly used as opposed to 4 clause BSD) regarding keeping or
not keeping the list of copyright holders or contributors?  Taking the
ISC license, for instance, there is the requirement that the copyright
notice be retained but...

1. when I look in OpenBSD source control for instance, I don't tend to
see the complete list of contributors put in the copyright (and OpenBSD
is very conscientious about attribution, licensing and copyright so I
think a good example here). e.g. ...

2. GPLv3 part 7 seems to allow you to add a term that requires that
attribution be done strictly, and that that addition wouldn't qualify
for downstream stripping.

In practice you'd want to get attribution information from source
control with either license involved. So I don't know what you're
getting at regarding the GPL and scientists' need for attribution (but
not advertising, I wouldn't think, unless they happen to be selling

Mike Small
smallm at

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