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Re: May I publish a Windows Installer for GNU Emacs?

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: May I publish a Windows Installer for GNU Emacs?
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2003 15:54:36 +0900
User-agent: Gnus/5.1001 (Gnus v5.10.1) XEmacs/21.4 (Portable Code, linux)

>>>>> "rms" == Richard Stallman <address@hidden> writes:

    rms> A message in that tone is not a constructive contribution to
    rms> deciding what we should do.

OK, here's a contructive version.

Paraphrase: Make sure that the dialog itself makes clear that use of
Emacs is entirely free under copyright law.  While to those in the
know, "Thanks!" and "I knew that!" are cute, the GNU GPL _is_ a legal
document.  Its purpose is likely to be quite unclear to the
uninitiated.  Those labels will occasionally be taken as a bad, if
well-intended, joke of uncertain meaning.

OTOH, I agree with the observation that users expect a EULA, and this
is an opportunity to put something useful in front of them.

Note that the GPL *is* a license, although not an "agreement".
Without it, the user may not make copies, which we consider a natural
part of ordinary usage.  Granted, most people will just burn a CD
containing the whole distribution, and thus trivially satisfy the
conditions.  But a license _is_ required, and there are some natural
ways to go wrong (for example, just copying the installed Emacs tree,
omitting the source distribution), so any humor may be a little risky,
legally speaking.

I suspect a terse statement of the four freedoms would fit and be
appropriate here.  Further, I would suggest that the GPL be presented
(1) as the legal statement of the FSF's responsibilities to the user
(NO WARRANTY etc), so please read that part, and (2) an invitation to
participate in improvement of the software.

With (2) in mind, you might consider substituting "How can I help?" or
"I'd like to know more!" for "I knew that!", and that button's action
would be to display some appropriate text.  Probably the whole GNU
Manifesto is too "heavy," but excerpts including the parts about "what
we need", plus text specifically explaining how important "ordinary
user" contributions such as bug reports and participation in c.emacs
and gnu.emacs.* are, might actually be quite frequently read.

Something like:


                  Thank you for choosing GNU Emacs.

Please read the "GNU General Public License" displayed below.

[[[[[[[[[[[[ scrollable text box containing preface and GPL ]]]]]]]]]]]]


Under copyright law, you are free to run this copy of GNU Emacs.  The
following General Public License states and protects additional rights
that you possess.  You need not accept or decline the License; you
simply exercise those rights, as defined in the License, at your
option.  Please read it to learn precisely what they are.

  One of those rights is make additional copies of GNU Emacs for your
own use.  Another is to copy and redistribute it to your neighbors, as
long as you give them a copy of everything, just as you got it.  More,
you may add features, fix defects, or use parts of GNU Emacs for your
own purposes, and make and distribute copies of such derived software.

  In case of modification, we add more complex restrictions to ensure
that all users can exercise these rights.  According to law, if you
redistribute copies of the software, verbatim or modified, you must
follow the terms of the License.  Please read the License, so you may
freely share GNU Emacs with your neighbors according to its terms.

  This license is extended from the Free Software Foundation, and any
authors of modifications, to you.  Since all are free to modify and
redistribute this software, no one can accept liability for any
defects or problems that may arise in your use of GNU Emacs.  This is
explained in the NO WARRANTY section of the License.

                    GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE
                       Version 2, June 1991

[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[ end scrollable text box ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]

GNU Emacs includes many contributions from both dedicated developers
and "just plain users".  If you will use GNU Emacs and share verbatim
copies with your neighbors, join us by clicking "Thank you all!" and
starting to use GNU Emacs.  If you would like to know how to contribute
more concretely, or how to use parts of GNU Emacs for your own
purposes, click "Tell me more."

["Thank you all!"]  ["That's great!  Tell me more, without legalese."]


Yeah, I know, all that's in the Preamble of the GPL.  But it would
require really fine print---bad associations, there---to get all those
statements into the first screen if we just dive into the GPL.  And
I'm sorry, I couldn't see a good way to get "free software" in there;
it really requires the supporting context that the Preamble gives.
Hopefully a well-designed screen can attract them to read the Preamble
(and the rest of the GPL).

The "without legalese" phrase is a little risky; people might
substitute clicking that button for reading the GPL.  However, this
could be considered a reasonable tradeoff to get many people to read
anything at all.  And sections of the GPL itself, plus pointers back
to the full document, would be natural to include anyway.

I considered that the GPL itself could be invoked by a button, but I
think it's most likely to be read if the title is visible along with
the summary.

Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences     http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.

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