[Mailman-Users] query re "message has implicit destination"(devils advocate!)

stephen at xemacs.org stephen at xemacs.org
Fri Sep 1 07:32:01 CEST 2006

Brad Knowles writes:
 > At 10:06 AM -0700 2006-08-31, John W. Baxter quoted "Brad Knowles" 
 > <brad at stop.mail-abuse.org>:
 > >>  We're not a commercial environment, and we've actually had pretty bad
 > >>  experiences with people/companies that are in commercial environments
 > >>  taking our software and making unapproved modifications to it, or
 > >>  providing the software to their customers but *not* providing
 > >>  adequate support to those customers.
 > >
 > >  "unapproved" may be a bit strong.  Perhaps "un-vetted" would be closer?
 > Actually, I think either "unapproved" or "unauthorized" are the most 
 > appropriate terms.  After all, the code is released under the GPL, 

Excuse me?  The GPL *explicitly* approves and authorizes (not to
mention implicitly encourages) modification and redistribution without
conditions other than providing source.  That's exactly what "license"

Has anybody at Mailman asked CPanel, Plesk, or Apple for source and
been refused?  Or one of their customers, and been refused because
they were under NDA?  If we haven't asked, how can we bitch?

 > and anyone who is making modifications to that code and then making 
 > their modified version available to their customers (or otherwise 
 > benefiting from those modifications) are supposed to contribute the 
 > source to their changes back to the community.  But CPanel has not 
 > done this, neither has Plesk, nor Apple.

C'mon, Brad, you know what the GPL actually says.  They're supposed to
give the source to their customers.  That's all it says.

It is quite possible to write a license that says you *must* give your
modifications back to some entity.  You could argue that the reason
the GPL doesn't do that is that "the community" is the only
appropriate beneficiary, but it's impossible to legally define "the
community" in a satisfactory way.  But I don't think that's what
Richard Stallman has in mind when he declares licenses containing such
clauses "unfree".  Nor do they satisfy the DFSG or the OSD.  I believe
it's that the whole idea of demanding payment of any kind is unfree.

 > So, while we don't make that big a deal of this issue, I think I'm 
 > actually being reasonably lenient on these companies.

I would say we're not trying to accomplish by jawbone what we refuse
to put in the license.  And that's very important to me.  It's one of
the things I like best about this community.  Of course you're
certainly welcome to consider that you're being lenient; I'm simply
explaining that I very much appreciate your lenience, but I
rationalize it differently.

Once again, has anybody simply *asked* these companies for their code,
and maybe for some contribution of labor toward integrating it?  If
so, how recently?  I realize that we probably "dislike" some of their
changes, so they wouldn't make it into the mainline (at least not as
defaults), but it could exist on more or less deprecated branches.
Surely there are CPanel- or Plesk-using ISPs who would like to have
Mailman project support available to their customers; we should be
able to get moral, if not financial, support from them.

Sincere regards,

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