MuseScore violating the Free System Distribution guidelines?

• Aug 10, 2016 - 02:24
Reported version
S5 - Suggestion

MuseScore is on the list of software that does not respect the Free System Distribution Guidelines . Apparently the only reason is "score examples have non-free and missing licenses".

This would seem to be an easy problem to fix: either remove the demos (which I doubt most people know exist, it's not like they're shown on first startup), or relicense them, or replace them with something else (freely licensed, of course).


Hm. Well, "All Dudes" and "Triumph" do both say "Copyright © 2011 Outside Shore Music", which sounds like they're nonfree.

"Reunion" is CC-BY licensed—perhaps what "Missing license tag file" means is that there isn't a copy of the CC-BY license included in /demos.

Since those are my contributions, I'm happy to do whatever it might take to comply, including removing All Dudes and Triumph, which were never properly updated for 2.0 that I know of and are pretty poor demos of current capabilities. If adding a file to the distribution satisfies the bean counter regarding Reunion, great, just tell me what file to add and where to add it and I'll see about getting it done.

Those files, and a few others (e.g. the PDF manual) that were covered under so-called "non-free" Creative Commons licenses have been removed.

There is a compiled binary file and also some PDFs in the repository, which is forbidden by Debian's Free Software Guidelines because they are not "transparent" or not "source" formats as required by the GNU GPL (i.e. they are not easily editable). However, it doesn't actually apply in this case because the source code and MSCX templates to those files are in the repository, though Debian still removes the files regardless. It doesn't make a difference here anyway because the files are only needed for the integration tests; they are not needed to run the program itself.

It's a shame that the Creative Commons licenses are considered non-free simply because they are incompatible with the GPL, when the purpose of the licenses is actually very similar.

CC-BY-SA summary:

You may use, copy, modify and redistribute this work providing you:

  • Credit the author of the original work.
  • Release the modified work under this license.

GNU GPL summary:

You can use, copy, modify and redistribute this program providing you:

  • Release the source code to your modified program, including all icons and resources, under this license.
  • We define source code as "the format most conducive to editing".

Unfortunately this means the licenses are considered incompatible even though they clearly have pretty much the same goal. One way to get around the issue is for document authors to dual-license under both licenses.

@Marc, as the author and copyright holder you simply need to either:

1. Remove the Creative Commons license and replace it with the GNU GPL version 2, or
2. Keep the Creative Commons license add a statement saying they can also be licensed under the GNU GPL version 2.

Note that, having signed MuseScore's CLA, you have technically given Werner permission to do this for you. Therefore, simply by adding the files to the repository they have already been sub-licensed under the GPL, thus no license was ever violated. But the safest option is for you to go and explicitly add the new license statement yourself.

For Triumph and All Dudes, that's the right answer 0 they are not good demos for 2.0 anyhow. For Reunion, I'd propose we continue to include it, but add the license file if that's what it takes. But if removing it is easier / better, that's fine too.