new license to review

bruce at bruce at
Sat May 8 06:43:56 UTC 1999

From: Tim Pierce <twp at>
> Can you be more specific?  What sort of license clause exactly should
> we steer clear of?  In general I think I agree that a license which
> restricts the behavior of derivative works is not really free, but on
> the other hand the GPL does the same thing:
>     c) If the modified program normally reads commands interactively
>     when run, you must cause it, when started running for such
>     interactive use in the most ordinary way, to print or display an
>     announcement including an appropriate copyright notice and a
>     notice that there is no warranty ...

There's no problem with the web server sticking that information in a comment
header, nothing depends on a comment header, just as nothing depends on an
copyright notice and warranty disclaimer printed as an informational message
during interactive operation.

The difference here is that the license is stipulating that the program
send a particular meta-datum that can have an effect on the server-client
communication. For example, a browser may choose to behave differently
depending on the contents of that server ID field.

> This requirement doesn't really bother me, but it would be nice if we
> could quantify what kind of restrictions on software behavior are
> permissible in a free software license.

I'd not want to enforce an API, or enforce a particular communications
protocol, or particular features of a communications protocol. Here, it's
proposed to enforce a particular feature of a communications protocol.



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