[GFSD] Totem contains an exception to allow the use of proprietary GStreamer plugins, violating GSFD guidelines.

Komponente:License problems
Zugewiesen:nicht zugewiesen
Status:needs more info

Totem Movie Player has this particular line at the end of their license statement; (To reproduce, open Totem Movie Player and click Help>About>License. A snapshot is attached for quick reference.)

"Totem contains an exception to allow the use of proprietary GStreamer plugins."

Can anybody investigate whether trisquel has this exception raised by Totem set?

License statement as viewed from Trisquel 6.0.1.png61.46 KB
Fr, 10/17/2014 - 18:31
Titel:Totem contains an exception to allow the use of proprietary GStreamer plugins.» [GFSD] Totem contains an exception to allow the use of proprietary GStreamer plugins, violating GSFD guidelines.
Komponente:Programs» License problems
Sa, 10/18/2014 - 00:29
Status:active» needs more info

And how exactly is this an issue?

Sa, 10/18/2014 - 19:31

Hi Legimet,

I am trying to provide you as much information as possible. Please feel free if you need more explanation.

There are several issues associated with this license statement:-
1. The statement is vague; It does not speak anything about whether a free distribution(Say Trisquel) has their Totem configured so as to include these proprietary pluggins or not. It does not state explicitly in which context they are introducing the term 'exceptions'. As far as I understood, this means that they have a perticular scenario in which this pluggins are allowed. If we have such pluggins in software consider how nasty it could be....!!

2. The use of the term "Proprietary" in a critical document like a license for a free software is highly objectionable in ethical concept in that;

a. We are giving unjust importance to proprietary software, say for example the above license statement has an implicit meaning that it has got some implimentation which support propritary bits. To be precise, our distribution which is supposed to encourage the use of free software tells the users that there is another implimentation which allows propritary pluggins available for them. This way we are actually diluting our own efforts to convince the community the goodness of free software.

b. There is a cluase in GSFD Guidelines which is relevant to this issue;
A snapshot of which is being attached;
The condition underlined has been violated as the statement advertises that it contains an exception to allow the use of propritary GStreamer pluggins, which is clearly in sense encouraging a user to give a try for this non-free implimentation.

There is a kind request from me: Please don't close/mark the issue as wrong; There could be more ethical issues related to this.

There are some more detail about this issue in the following link and if possible please pay special attention to "Licensing of applications using GStreamer" session in the article.


Relevent GFSD Guide line.png 139.92 KB
Sa, 10/18/2014 - 19:54

This is just a license exception to the GPL that legally allows one to use nonfree GStreamer plugins with Totem. Trisquel doesn't contain any of these (but if you find any report it), and a license exception like this one isn't "encouraging" the user to install nonfree plugins. There are other license exceptions used in various GPL-licensed pieces of software. You can see some on the GNU website: https://www.gnu.org/licenses/exceptions.html. For example, the GCC Runtime Library exception says the following:

"The purpose of this Exception is to allow compilation of non-GPL (including proprietary) programs to use ..."

So clearly there is no freedom problem with the exception. On the other hand, I think there is another problem with it. The actual license exception (look in the copyright file) allows the use of non-GPL compatible plugins, not just proprietary ones. But this is a minor issue and should probably be reported upstream.

Sa, 10/18/2014 - 20:43

Thank you so much, Legimet.

Yes, it is better that this issue be assigned to a upstream. Can you do it for me?