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Re: [Fsfe-uk] Re: Freedom to take freedom

From: Alex Hudson
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] Re: Freedom to take freedom
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2008 15:04:48 +0000

On Wed, 2008-01-23 at 14:25 +0000, MJ Ray wrote:
> Alex Hudson <address@hidden> wrote:
> > On Wed, 2008-01-23 at 12:04 +0000, Dave Crossland wrote:
> > > If I release software with a license in LICENSE.txt and a TERMS.txt
> > > that says "You can only use this on Mondays" - it is not free
> > > software, and you can receive it from me under those terms because I'm
> > > the original licenor, but you can't redistribute it.
> >
> > Why can't I redistribute it?
> Whether you can redistribute it depends on how 'impose' is interpreted.

Well, given it's only addressed to licensees, I don't see why that's an
issue. No sensible definition of "impose" that I can think of would
include "giving others the same terms you got yourself" - "impose" means
a change.

> You can't modify and redistribute it (so it's not free software) can you?

I'm not really arguing either way on the free software part, but I don't
see why I can't modify and redistribute. 

> The GPL requires modifications to be under GPL (unless "this License" in
> the GPL doesn't mean the GPL, somehow) and one can't satisfy 6, so can't
> satisfy 2b, thanks to the extra terms.

That still only works if you somehow can sever the different license
terms in two. I don't buy that at all; there's a single license in place
which happens to be two pieces of text conjoined. 

But let's say for the sake of the argument that modifications have to be
under the GPL. The problem there is incompatibility with GPL+bits, since
the new code (GPL) won't allow the +bits restriction. 

However, you can get around that by adding a linking exception to the
new code to say it can be put together with the old. We haven't added
any new restrictions, and we've solved the license incompatibility
(effectively overriding sec. 6 in the GPL-only code for this scenario).

So, in that scenario, I don't see any legal obstacle to modifying it and
redistributing it with new GPL-only code. I may be missing something,
but with two vastly-compatible licenses I can't see why it wouldn't work
- the incompatibility is in one direction only.



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