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Re: [XaraXtreme-dev] Example Licences

On Thu, 17 Aug 2006 16:45:42 +0100, Alex Bligh wrote:
> I don't think you can GPL a design - the language doesn't make sense.

What language doesn't make sense? In version 2 you can see things like
"program or other work" and "source code for a work means the
preferred form of the work for making modifications to it". So terms
such as "program" and "source code" are explicitly defined to apply to
works other than software. (And the drafts of version 3 of the GPL do
a better job about putting these definitions up front). The
application of those definitions to a Xara design look very natural to

There's an opinion paper up at gnu.org with a 1997 date that
explicitly states the applicability of the GPL to non-software works:


It even recommends an alternate licensing blurb than the one most
frequently used with software works.

> I have not had a response from the Debian folks as to what license
> they would consider "free". Note it's only Debian that appears to have
> this problem with the CC licenses,

Well, the Creative Commons organization has stated its intent to "take
on board the concerns of the Debian group about the clarity of some
provisions of our licenses":


> the OSL too (despite it having OSI approval).

I'll refrain from commenting on the OSL, (not having sufficient
familiarity with it).

>                                               If there is a reciprocal
> (i.e. sharealike) license approved by Debian that works for things
> other than source code, I'd like to know it.

I think the GPL is the thing. Debian certainly contains thousands of
examples of pieces of GPL-licensed artwork, (image files, etc.),
within packages that are predominantly software.

And there are surely many packages that would be considered
predominantly non-software that are also under the GPL. I don't know
of an easy way to search for these within Debian because I don't know
of any existing mechanism for distinguishing "software" vs. "non
software" packages. (And I would argue that it would be difficult to
invent a sharp distinction anyway.)

Here's one place where one can find thousand of examples of
"predominantly non-software" works released under the GPL. Here's a
link to the category of GPL-licensed themes available from


I see 6094 separate projects there, for example. And a desktop theme
is precisely the kind of thing that I think shows the difficulty in
trying to separate software from non-software works. I consider a
theme as being predominantly non-software, (primary components are the
background artwork, artwork for window decorations, and color palette
selections). But certainly a theme which can be "installed" and take
effect definitely requires some components that can easily be
considered software.

And it's easy to imagine someone wanting to take a reciprocally-
licensed example design, and wanting to create a desktop theme from
it. So even if there does exist some natural separation between
software and non-software at some point, useful derivations can easily
blur the lines.

But, whatever licensing you (and the artists) choose for the examples,
it is definitely preferable to make separate tar files for things that
have separate licenses. This allows distributions like Debian and
Fedora, for example, to more easily apply their own discrimination as
to which pieces they consider as being licensed in ways compatible
with their collections.


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