NASM Licence

Frank Kotler fbkotler at
Wed Oct 18 11:40:06 UTC 2000

Hi Zak,
(I'm replying "to" you, and "cc" the list. Is that the approved

> Clause X is very ambiguous.  What exactly does:
> "In addition to what this Licence otherwise provides, the Software
> may be distributed in such a way as to be compliant with the GNU
> General Public Licence..." mean?
> It sounds like a Captain-Kirkesque logic trap used to defeat evil computer
> entities.  Perhaps it is a logic bomb left for Richard Stallman: I can
> picture it now "Mmmm... Clause X - GPL Compatible... no wait, clause IV -
> proprietary licensing... no wait.. clause X..."
> Repeat til beard explodes into flame.

Reminds me of the old "The statement on the other side of this card is
false"/"The statement on the other side of this card is true" trick!

> (Note: I am not worthy to scrape the finger gunk off of RMS's hallowed
> keyboard -- I just can't resist poking a wee bit of fun...)

I hope he can take a little ribbing - if not, he shouldn'ta stuck his
head up. I like RMS's ideas, but I don't think it's the *only* viewpoint
worth considering.
> Seriously -- the clause sounds like it is based on the best of intentions.
> If the license is GPL-compatible (or the authors found it palatable to make
> it compatible) then perhaps adding a simple statement indicating that the
> license is GPL friendly would satisfy everyone?

Mmmm. Wouldn't that just be a repeat of clause X? In actual fact, the
Nasm licence *isn't* very GPL-friendly. For starters, it never mentions
"source code" at all (surprised someone hasn't mentioned that - maybe
someone has, is there an archive?). It retains some (trivial, IMO)
rights for the "original authors" - rather fuzzily defined in clause XI
- how are we to determine who S & J "feel has contributed
significantly"? Selling the software is prohibited (except with
permission from the "original authors").  I really wouldn't want to see
the Nasm licence on the OSI web-page as an example license that people
are urged to adopt.

Nonetheless, I'd like to see "OSI certified", because it could remain on
SourceForge - else they're evicting us. While the Nasm licence isn't
explicitly an "open-source" license, it makes no mention of restricting
the source, and in fact the source is generally (always?) available
right alongside the binaries. As I recall, the "original authors"
intention was to not prohibit distribution of the binary as a "free
disk" in a magazine, or whatever, without source. You've gotta remember
that it was written by a couple young students, several years ago. It's
"free software" as opposed to "shareware" (or commercial), tho not
precisely by RMS's definition. Nasm was intended to be freely
distributable, and has always come with source. It isn't a "clandestine
source" license!

If OSI won't approve it - which wouldn't surprise me too much (tho
Debian distributes Nasm, and if OSI's definition is based on Debian's...
oh-oh, here we go again :), the web-site says they'll help resolve
problems. If their advice is forwarded to Julian, perhaps he'll agree
(he's said he doesn't like GPL, and "would prefer an alternative"). In
any case, we'd know where we stand with SourceForge.

Perhaps just a "Clause XIII - The source code shall always be
available." would make everyone happy. Doubt it'll be that simple.

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