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What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 19, 2012 16:11 UTC (Wed) by Tov (subscriber, #61080)
In reply to: What GPL/EU compatibility is needed? by coriordan
Parent article: European Union's open source license to become compatible with GPLv3

One motivation for the EUPL is that many governments cannot publish software under a licence that isn't one of their official languages. With the EUPL, the Swedish government can use the Swedish version, and downstream recipients can change the software to GPLv3. In that way, the EUPL can work as a shim, much easier than trying to translate the GPL into 23 languages.

Being a EU citizen it makes me sad. Enormous resources are spent on translation - just because certain countries are too proud to adopt English as a common working language. (No, I am not a native English speaker neither). Furthermore the language issue is the prime symbol of the unwillingness to compromise on irrational national interests.


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What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 19, 2012 16:42 UTC (Wed) by edeloget (subscriber, #88392) [Link]

It would also be nice to ensure that the licensing terms can be read even by people which does not read English. You understand that most of the time, we make softwares, and these beasts are supposed to be used at some point by a regular someone. Not a linux hacker, not a BSD guru - you know, what we are used to call a *user* :)

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 19, 2012 17:05 UTC (Wed) by juliank (subscriber, #45896) [Link]

Those are commonly called idiots, not users.

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Jan 7, 2013 13:59 UTC (Mon) by edeloget (subscriber, #88392) [Link]

Sorry if I nail down your brilliant, useful comment. I love it - so clever, so insightful... I wonder: how can I have forgotten that approximately 9 people out of 10 on Earth is an idiot? I'm ashamed.

Unless I'm mistaken, the licensing terms are supposed to be useful to both the developper AND the user. There is something like "if you don't agree with the licensing terms, then you are not allowed to use that software" (that's still true with the GPL or with any FOSS license). Now, if a user is not able to read the license, how can he accept it?

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Jan 7, 2013 14:49 UTC (Mon) by ekj (guest, #1524) [Link]

No, that is emphatically *not* true with the GPL.

Indeed, the GPL says so explicitly. Quote: "Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act of running the Program is not restricted"

That is, you do *NOT* need to agree to the GPL in order to use the software, or indeed to do anything permitted under copyright-law. The GPL in effect says: "You don't have to agree with any of this - but *if* you agree, you get a set of additional rights, including the right to distribute, copy and modify the software"

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Jan 7, 2013 15:56 UTC (Mon) by cortana (subscriber, #24596) [Link]

> That is, you do *NOT* need to agree to the GPL in order to use the software, or indeed to do anything permitted under copyright-law

In the US, or everywhere?

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Jan 8, 2013 15:13 UTC (Tue) by ekj (guest, #1524) [Link]

The GPL says explicitly that the act of running the program is "not restricted", i.e. allowed without restrictions. I'm not sure how much clearer you can possibly get in law.

It's true that a few jurisdictions have insane definitions of "copying" that makes even transient copies, such as those exisint in RAM of a program executed from the hard-disc "copies" in the copyright-sense. In those jurisdictions, you require a permission from the copyright-holder to run a program, because running it includes making copies of it.

More sane jurisdictions discount such temporary functional copies from their definition of "copy" and no permission is required.

However: even in those jurisdictions where you -do- need permission to run a program, it is quite clear that the GPL grants you this permission.

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Jan 8, 2013 17:08 UTC (Tue) by etienne (guest, #25256) [Link]

> It's true that a few jurisdictions have insane definitions of "copying" that makes even transient copies

Would you call installation of the software package on the hard disk a "transient copy", or are you talking of live DVD distributions where someone else did the DVD copy?

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Jan 8, 2013 17:56 UTC (Tue) by ekj (guest, #1524) [Link]

What I personally would and would not do isn't terribly relevant for anyone but me.

I find the model of copyright used here in Norway to be fairly reasonable, with the exception that the protection-time is MUCH too long.

Here, such incidental copies that are required for the normal use of a legally aquired work, are allowed. This includes installing software from a DVD onto a hard-disc, loading that program into RAM, and also taking a complete backup of a machine with the program installed. (all of these things fall under "normal use")

But all this is nitpicking - and nitpicking that by its nature is jurisdiction-specific. Even if you're unlucky enough to live somewhere where you do need permission to use a program you legally aquired, then that's still not a problem because the GPL grants such a permission. In practical terms it's impossible to break the GPL by making multiple copies of the software for your own use -- what would you do: refuse to give yourself the sourcecode ?

In short, unless you distribute GPLed software - or derivative works, you don't need to agree to anything in particular to use the software for anything you like.

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Jan 9, 2013 11:17 UTC (Wed) by etienne (guest, #25256) [Link]

> I find the model of copyright used here in Norway to be fairly reasonable...
> ... you don't need to agree to anything in particular to use the software for anything you like.

Are you saying that in Norway, if you completely break the GPL license (for instance by incorporating GPL source code inside your closed source product, pretending that you have written it all yourself, and selling that software), then you still have the right to use the initial GPL software, because:
- the copy of the GPL software you have downloaded from a FTP server has been created on your own hard drive by the FTP server and not by yourself
- the copy in /usr/bin resulting on the installation of the .deb/.rpm is "normal use"
- the copy in memory at execution time is also "normal use"?
Is it fairly reasonable?

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Jan 9, 2013 11:43 UTC (Wed) by ekj (guest, #1524) [Link]

Yes. If you legally acquired the software, you can use it without breaking any laws.

But of course, the copyright-holder could sue you for illegally distributing a derived work from your FTP-server.

Those are two entirely distinct questions:

1) Can you legally *use* this software that you legally downloaded from wherever ? Yes you can.

2) Can you legally distribute copies of it, or works that are derived from it, without the permission of the copyright-holder ? No you can not.

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 19, 2012 17:41 UTC (Wed) by Wol (guest, #4433) [Link]

Why should Europe adopt English as its prime language, seeing as it's a MINORITY first language!

If we're going to adopt "a european language" I would much rather adopt that OTHER international language, which also happens to be the most widely spoken first language in Europe! Any ideas which one?

Actually, it's a language group, rather than a language, but it's Romance, or as we could call it "modern latin". When you add together all those people whose native language is a derivative of latin, it is the most common language, outnumbering the germanic languages combined, or the slav languages combined.

As for English, Finnish, Hungarian, (French?) they hardly register!

My personal preference, actually, would be to select those major language groups (English, French, Germanic, Romance, Slav) and say that all official texts must be in one language from each group. It is up to the proposer to provide those official translations, and then every country can translate into their own specific language. And if there is a dispute as to meaning, the country that provided the original document has to use the translation, not the original! (For other disputes, the original would trump.)

Oh - by the way - I am a native Brit who's only Romance language is school latin (though I do speak German, French and Russian).

Cheers,
Wol

Ok, the subject has changed to language policy now

Posted Dec 19, 2012 18:22 UTC (Wed) by coriordan (guest, #7544) [Link]

> those major language groups (English, French, Germanic, Romance, Slav)

The problem with picking a language group (English is a Germanic language and French is a Romance language) is that even native-speakers within those groups can't understand each other, let alone speak and write the other languages.

I speak two Germanic languages, but I can't understand German, and I speak one and a half Romance languages but I can't understand Italian.

> then every country can translate into their own specific language

Who pays? If the country pays, then it's unfair because very little will be published in, say, Dutch, so the Dutch speakers (who form 1.5 medium-sized countries) will have to pay higher translation costs than the English- or German-speakers (who form much larger economies and could better afford such costs).

Or should the EU pay? In that case you've just recreated the current situation whereby everything is translated into every language and the EU pays.

There is no simple answer: language policy will always provide oodles of fun :-)

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 19, 2012 22:31 UTC (Wed) by coriordan (guest, #7544) [Link]

Oh, and for anyone who likes grouping languages together and wishing that people weren't attached to existing languages, Interlingua is very interesting:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interlingua

But for me, much less interesting than Spanish.

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 20, 2012 9:08 UTC (Thu) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

As a Spanish speaker, thanks. There are many countries that are not that attached to their native languages: they tend to be small countries where commerce has been an important economic force, like Portugal or the Netherlands. There are others which do not take the trouble to learn anything else even if pressed: they tend to be big countries which have been the heads of former empires, like Spain, France or England (not UK, I should say).

I like very much the Arab model: a private language (e.g. Moroccan) to speak at home and with friends, and an official lingua franca used in formal communications, classic Arab. It used to be this way in Europe with Latin, but it fell out of fashion many centuries ago. A pity, but to tell the truth Latin grammar was hellish.

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 20, 2012 11:00 UTC (Thu) by anselm (subscriber, #2796) [Link]

I like very much the Arab model: a private language (e.g. Moroccan) to speak at home and with friends, and an official lingua franca used in formal communications, classic Arab. It used to be this way in Europe with Latin, but it fell out of fashion many centuries ago.

This was the basic reasoning behind Esperanto, which is supposed to be easy to learn as a second language. The idea was that, for reasons of politics and national pride, we would never get everybody to standardise on one single global language, so it would make sense to have an »auxiliary language« to be used if you had no other language in common.

This sounds great in theory, but in practice there is both huge inertia and a chicken-egg problem (nobody wants to go first but unless there is lots of buy-in the advantages don't really come to play). Think of Esperanto (and other similar languages) as the Dvorak keyboard of languages.

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 20, 2012 11:50 UTC (Thu) by andresfreund (subscriber, #69562) [Link]

> Think of Esperanto (and other similar languages) as the Dvorak keyboard of languages.

Its even harder, more like converting your entire company to Dvorak before you're allowed to use it on your own hardware.

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 20, 2012 15:48 UTC (Thu) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

> A pity, but to tell the truth Latin grammar was hellish.
Not for Russian speakers. It's fairly easy to pick up Latin if you already speak a language with a case system that is close enough to Latin already.

So bring it on, Latin as the choice for the global language wouldn't be so bad.

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 20, 2012 18:21 UTC (Thu) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784) [Link]

The three most common languages spoken as first languages have no case system at all (Standard Chinese a.k.a. Mandarin) or a vestigial case system (English, Spanish).

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 20, 2012 23:02 UTC (Thu) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

It is quite revealing that all romance languages spawned by Latin lost the case system at some point. But it is not just that: in Latin the order of words in a sentence is completely arbitrary. Having a full degree of freedom in such a basic mechanism of grammar does not make it easy for speakers of highly positional languages.

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 20, 2012 23:08 UTC (Thu) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

> It is quite revealing that all romance languages spawned by Latin lost the case system at some point.
And gained articles and fixed order of words instead.

Also, not all languages have lost it - German retains quite a bit of Latin gender system and somewhat reduced case system.

>Having a full degree of freedom in such a basic mechanism of grammar does not make it easy for speakers of highly positional languages.
I come from the other direction - fixed order of words is not such a big deal.

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 20, 2012 23:13 UTC (Thu) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

German is not a romance language, and proud of it. You could make the case with English due to much influence from Latin and French, but English people would not appreciate it.

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 19, 2012 17:41 UTC (Wed) by coriordan (guest, #7544) [Link]

I have to very much disagree.

People's desire and ability to speak English vary greatly depending on their social class, native language, employment sector, age, etc. Excluding the people who happen to have poor English is very undemocratic.

...and then there's immigrants. If someone moves to Sweden, do they have to learn Swedish? English? or both? And people with learning difficulties, do they also have to learn English in addition to their native language?

I'm a big fan of multilingualism, but governments can't require it.

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 19, 2012 18:53 UTC (Wed) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

People's desire and ability to speak English vary greatly depending on their social class, native language, employment sector, age, etc. Excluding the people who happen to have poor English is very undemocratic.

We are talking about software here. This means English. Democracy has nothing to do wit this. it's just history. For ballet you need French, for medicine you need Latin and for software you need English—or else trying to create community is pretty hard (look on things like Nginx or Ruby: they only become big when they finally accepted this fact).

This may be "undemocratic" and "unfair" but that's life.

And if you need to write all the documents (or at least all the important ones) in English anyway then using English license is not such a big problem.

I don't know where to draw the line

Posted Dec 19, 2012 19:15 UTC (Wed) by coriordan (guest, #7544) [Link]

You're talking about developer communities. I was talking about governments.

I agree that developer communities can choose whatever lingua franca they want, and most choose English.

But governments have a duty of democracy and inclusivity for all citizens.

So I think language requirements aren't absurd. But I don't know where to draw the line in order to require governments to communicate to their citizens in an official language, but at the same time not block those governments from contributing to GPL'd projects. Hmmm....

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 20, 2012 12:46 UTC (Thu) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

Are you saying that the average person doesn't need to be able to understand licences and end-user agreements? That they should just click "Accept" and go with it? Because that's where this ends up.

Besides, there are plenty of software-related projects that aren't run in English, including ones that specifically target users that need stuff in their own language (things like localisation projects for applications). It's not for any of us to tell people in such projects to learn English, especially if they're getting on well enough not knowing any.

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 20, 2012 13:32 UTC (Thu) by ekj (guest, #1524) [Link]

I don't know if that's what he was saying, but it certainly matches reality.

Reality is that most people are completely unable to read and understand, even approximately, the implications of your average EULA. You need excellent abstract reasoning, and a *firm* grasp of the legalese subvariant of english - as well as several hours time to even have a chance.

The rational choice is to ignore the EULA completely and click "Accept".

This is what the overwhelming majority of computer-users do. And it's a rational choice.

Sure, you *could* spend thousands of hours of your life reading, and trying to comprehend EULAs, including all the implications of the text in them. But doing so would be a massive waste of time, and it's highly unlikely that any gain you'd have from doing so would be outweighed by the benefits.

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 23, 2012 15:26 UTC (Sun) by Jan_Zerebecki (guest, #70319) [Link]

I think the end user of software should not need to understand, read or accept the license if it is free software. I haven't thought too long about this but I couldn't come up with why a sane free software license would require acceptance from the softwares user. Can you?

Telling the user that free software and culture is great is something totally different because it shouldn't involve licenses.

Usually companies do not want their customers to understand end-user agreements and TOS and such things because otherwise the customer would understand that the company does not care about the interests of the customer at all. Perhaps http://tos-dr.info/ will be able to help. (Yes there are exceptions, like unusually understandable TOS, free software companies, companies that try hard to behave in ethical ways, etc. But those are not the majority.)

If one were to turn the tos-dr.info concept top down and templateize and modularize TOS (that would be the DSL aproach to law) only the templates and related documentation need to be translated once. But I guess the majority of lawyers would probably fight something like this like their lives depended on it, because their profit depends on it.

What GPL/EU compatibility is needed?

Posted Dec 23, 2012 18:42 UTC (Sun) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

Using free software should always be free of restrictions that are going to affect the vast majority of users. However, one of the vaunted freedoms is the freedom to pass on copies of free software to other users, and various licenses do impose restrictions on that act that may impact common cases.


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