Subject: Re: Special Exceptions on FreeCard project
From: Alex <xela@MIT.EDU>
Date: Sun, 19 Mar 2000 10:25:11 -0500

> Hi All,
> I asked for insights on SPECIAL EXCEPTIONS and the GPL. Lots of good
> feedback so far. Thanks! Next homework step....

[Description of HyperCard clone FreeCard axed.]

> As an outcome of the authoring, USER-folks can create double-clickable
> applications -- or just pass along their "stack" (mainly content) that runs
> with the "player-application" (core code). In turn, the customers/students
> can operate these applications, authored by the user of FreeCard.
> So, we'd like the FreeCard tool to be FREE and OPEN, but we'd like to see
> the FreeCard community be able to create applications that are CLOSED AND

My prejudice: The proliferation of licenses is bad for the open
source movement in general, and should be avoided unless you're
certain your needs cannot be met without doing so.

I fail to see from what you've said how a freestanding application
written with FreeCard is qualitatively different from a binary
executable produced by compiling with GCC.  The GPL allows people
to sell (or otherwise distribute) binaries produced by GCC without
source, so it ought to be sufficient for executables produced by
FreeCard as well --- without any additional licence language.

> In the process, Richard (RS) was contacted and this EXCEPTION (run past FSF
> lawyers already) has been advanced.

Presumably you mean rms?

>     As a special exception, you may publish an integrated combination
>     of FreeCard in executable form together with your data to be
>     displayed using FreeCard, under your choice of license, provided
>     that (1) the license does not permit extraction of the FreeCard
>     executable from the combination other than in accord with the
>     terms of the GNU General Public License, that (2) you state
>     prominently either in or with the combination the precise location
>     where the complete corresponding source code for the same version
>     of FreeCard is openly available on a widely used network, and
>     where you can reasonably expect it to remain available for at
>     least one year after you first publish the combination.

Re-reading this, it occurs to me that perhaps what you mean is
that FreeCard can produce FreeCard-reader binaries (perhaps
containing only the functions required to play a given stack?),
which can be distributed with stacks?  In that case it seems to 
me that the existing GPL language should be sufficient along with
a portion of the FreeCard *copyright notice* that says something
like "you may distribute FreeCard readers in binary form with the
following notice:....".


PS:  BTW, I wish you all the best with this endeavour.  I remember
the flowering of (sometimes really good) user-generated stacks in
the early days of HyperCard, and its ugly death when Apple decided
to screw Bill Atkinson and charge for it.  

PPS:  I work for one of the country's largest K-12 curriculum R&D
outfits.  I can certainly help you find beta testers when the time
comes, and *might* even be able to help you find some funding.

Carl Alexander                                                    KD7GUR
------------- MIT (where Alex hangs out):      Course VI (sometime special student)    SIPB (prospective)
                  Mitgaard ("honorary mold")    MITSFS    LSC (night worker)
------------- Work (where they call me 'Carl'):     Sr. Systems & Network Administrator, TERC