[Haskell-cafe] Hackage and Free Software

Mike Meyer mwm at mired.org
Mon Mar 2 22:27:53 UTC 2015

On Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 3:36 PM, fr33domlover <fr33domlover at riseup.net>

> On 2015-02-28
> Mike Meyer <mwm at mired.org> wrote:
> >
> > There are open source projects that are systematically excising GPL'ed
> > software because of the problems it shares with ShareAlike licenses.
> Should
> > we disallow the GPL because some people have problems with it?
> >
> > Making Hackage better to help users sort out which licenses they are
> > willing to accept in their project - which I personally would like to do
> on
> > a project-by-project basis! - is a solution to these problems.
> Restricting
> > the licenses that are acceptable on Hackage to meet some arbitrary set of
> > criteria is a knee-jerk.
> The restrictions aren't arbitrary at all. They're based on ethics. On
> Software
> freedom.

Until you've got an objective set of ethics - or a definition of "software
freedom" - that everyone accepts, that's just a long-winded way of saying

Here's a suggestion: We can talk about this forever, because there seem to
> be
> no official guidelines to really discuss. Why don't we put clear
> guidelines at
> hackage.haskell.org ? If these guidelines would be "proprietary software
> allowed", then there's a point to discuss. But if the guideline requires
> certain tagging - currently all the license tags except
> all-rights-reserved are
> free software licenses - maybe the problem is already solved.

Not quite. "OtherLicense" is an accepted license tag, and I take it to mean
I can use any license I want. If you're going to place a restriction on the
license types beyond "use one of our tags" (and if you disallow the
otherLicense tag, then I'd say that's an arbitrary restriction), then you
should either define the terms in it, or choose terms that are well
defined. "free software" is so ill defined that gnu.org has to explain what
they mean by "free software"  (https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html).
They even point out that there are open source software licenses that don't
meet their definition of free (
https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.html).  Their
definition of proprietary as "not free" makes software licensed under such
licenses proprietary, though that's certainly not common usage.

So just saying "only free software licenses" or "no proprietary software"
would make matters worse, not better, because those terms have multiple
meanings in common use. And that makes them not only arbitrary, but vague.
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