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Re: nmap license is incompatible with GPL

On Tue, 2018-04-10 at 11:42 +0200, Ansgar Burchardt wrote:
> Hi,
> [ BCC'ed maintainers of packages mentioned below ]
> Chris Lamb pointed out that nmap uses a special version of the GPL-2
> which is incompatible with the standard GPL license:
> +---
> > Because this license imposes special exceptions to the GPL, Covered
> > work may not be combined (even as part of a larger work) with plain
> > GPL software."
> +---
> The license in particular also forbids front-ends parsing nmap's output
> that are released under a license not compatible with nmap's:
> +---
> > For example, we consider an application to constitute a
> > derivative work for the purpose of this license if it does any of the
> > following with any software or content covered by this license
> > ("Covered Software"):
> > [...]
> > - Is designed specifically to execute Covered Software and parse the
> >   results (as opposed to typical shell or execution-menu apps, which
> >   will execute anything you tell them to).
> +---

This is an interesting legal theory, and I would be interested to hear
whether any free software lawyer agrees with it.  (And the distinction
they try to draw is so unclear that I really doubt a court would want
to rule on it.)

> This means packages such as `nmapsi4`, `python-nmap`, `lsat`, `nikto`,
> `zabbix`, `oscinventory-agent`, `fusioninventory-agent-task-network` and
> possibly others which are licensed under the GPL-2 (some with or-later)
> do not conform to nmap's license requirements...
> I plan to file RC bugs against these packages soon; this thread can
> serve as a central place for discussions.

I think we should determine that either:

1. This provision is not enforceable, and we don't need to do that.
2. This provision is enforceable, it is a restriction on use, and it
   makes nmap non-free.


Ben Hutchings
All the simple programs have been written, and all the good names taken

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