#538 JSON (src/com/json) license is non-free

Packaging (10)


it has been brought to our attention that the JSON license in src/com/json is not an open -source license, as it includes the provision "The Software shall be used for Good, not Evil."

This is in contradiction to the FSF's Free Software Definition Freedom #0, "The freedom to run the program, for any purpose", and the Debian Free Software Guidelines clause #6, "No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor: The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research."

This might sounds like a joke at first, but it is a real problem, and apparently the above clause has been added by the JSON developers in order to poke fun at the Free Software community and introduce license compatibility issues.

Is there a way to remove the JSON code without breaking JMol completely and/or can it be reimplemented/worked around reasonably easily?

Otherwise, JMol might have to be removed from Debian and Ubuntu (and possible other distributions like OpenSuse and Fedora)


  • Angel Herraez

    Angel Herraez - 2012-11-09

    I'm no expert at all in licenses or open source, but for me that does sound like a joke.
    In my opinion, givem that this is a real limitation, as exemplified by your quotes, the line to follow is not to put effort to try and go around by reimplementing the code (which may in itself be questionable, depending on the license terms), but to make this situation clear to the developers of the JSON software and ask them to remove the conflicting phrase.
    Im quite sure that Jmol cannot go now without JSON, and it would be extar and useless work to do this in other way.

  • Michael Banck

    Michael Banck - 2012-11-09

    By all means, try to contact them. But be warned that this has been done before, and turned down.

    But maybe if enough upstream developers (as opposed to concerned distributions) nudge them, they will finally come to their senses.

    As a data point, it is said that they grant an exception to their license to IBM, so they can continue to be evil...

  • Bob Hanson

    Bob Hanson - 2012-11-09

    This is not a problem -- I will remove the JSON code from Jmol. It's just used for the Molecular Playground, and it isn't necessary there anyway.


  • Bob Hanson

    Bob Hanson - 2012-11-10

    Jmol 13.1.9 and Jmol 13.0.9 no longer use any JSON code. (Jmol's ScriptVariable system can be used just as well).

  • Bob Hanson

    Bob Hanson - 2012-11-10
    • status: open --> open-fixed

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