GPL v3

Rick Moen rick at
Fri Jan 27 18:43:10 UTC 2006

Quoting Ken Arromdee (arromdee at

> On Thu, 26 Jan 2006, Rick Moen wrote:
> > That other bit about fixed attributions making a work
> > non-free/proprietary is one reason why, although I'm a long-time
> > subscriber to debian-legal, I only rarely read it, in order to
> > safeguard my blood pressure: Author attributions may not be
> > stripped in derivative works by _default action of copyright law_,
> > so it is utter lunacy to assert, as poster Garrett and numerous
> > others do, that clauses to that same effect make the work non-free
> > through it "failing the Chinese Dissident Test". 
> > 
> > That is a perfect example of the aforementioned problem of certain
> > posters being context-challenged and ignorant of the law. 
> Copyright law protects someone who wants to be attributed.

It also takes into account those who don't:  By statute (USA
jurisdiction, at least; others possibly), attribution is a guaranteed
right but can be disclaimed -- see 17 USC 106A.  Further, a "Chinese
dissident" who didn't wish to identified could obviously use either a
pseudonym or no name at all.

The (US-based) critic posting to debian-legal asserted that
Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 is non-free (in part) because it would
prevent a "Chinese dissident" from avoiding identification as author.
Well, it simply doesn't.  A moment's contemplation of either the
mechanics of authorship or of copyright law would have revealed that to
him.  Thus my point.

> The Chinese Dissident Test protects someone who doesn't.  They're both
> about attribution, but about very different aspects of it.
> They have nothing to do with each other.

You really didn't pay a lot of attention to what I said.  I hope the
above will help clarify.

Anyhow, far be it from me, within our metaphorical glass house, to throw
the stone of accusing others of being armchair lawyers, but the usual
use of the "Chinese Dissident Test" on debian-legal is exactly that sort
of excursion into legal blunderland, which in my view renders (typical)
postings on that mailing list a very poor guide to DFSG-freeness.

Additionally, for reasons I cited elsewhere in my earlier post, those 
postings (and Web pages abstracted from them) have no authority to speak
for the Debian Project.  (Thank heavens for small favours.)

Rick Moen                 "Anger makes dull men witty, but it keeps them poor."
rick at                                   -- Elizabeth Tudor

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