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Re: Lawyer's evaluation

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: Lawyer's evaluation
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2003 23:41:46 +0900
User-agent: Gnus/5.1001 (Gnus v5.10.1) XEmacs/21.4 (Portable Code, linux)

>>>>> "Kim" == Kim F Storm <address@hidden> writes:

    Kim> So if I never distribute my changes, who really cares
    Kim> [whether I accepted the GPL or not]?

Nobody, AFAIK ... but we should be careful.

    Kim> I bet that many people who have modified - and later
    Kim> contributed their valuable code to emacs and other GNU
    Kim> projects - never really read the GPL in all its fine detail
    Kim> (I think they understand the spirit of it though).

I think they understand the spirit of cooperation; I much doubt they
understand the "kiai" (unyielding martial spirit) of Copyleft.
Copyleft is a double-edged sword; it can inhibit, as well as promote,
cooperation.  For example, the incompatibility of the GPL and the FDL
is quite annoying in a language that supports docstrings.

    >> In fact, it implies acceptance of the license.  That means we
    >> really need to say that such distribution must follow the terms
    >> of the license.  I don't see how that can happen if the user
    >> doesn't read it.

    Kim> I'd guess it happens everyday :-)

    Kim> Some person wants to "give away" his software, and picks the
    Kim> GPL as the license to use; that doesn't mean that he actually
    Kim> read it first.  He may just think: If GPL is good enough for
    Kim> GNU software, then it's certainly good enough for my software
    Kim> :-)

This is not a problem.  (Unless, of course, he applies the same logic
to the FDL, thereby unwittingly creating problems for would-be forks.)

However, if the software in question is derived from Emacs, and he
doesn't understand the GPL, he's very likely to engage in the kind of
"cherrypicking" David Kastrup warned against encouraging.  Eg, failing
to distribute source or a "written offer to supply source" with
binaries to people "who don't want it".

I've done that myself (in 1991, when I really had no clue about GPL; I
believe that nobody was denied the chance to exercise GPL rights that
he would have wanted to, but technically it was a violation).  You
see, me, ca. 1991, is who I was aiming the first draft for.

Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences     http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
               Ask not how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.

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