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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: Thu, 24 Jan 2008 13:27:20 +0000

On Thu, 2008-01-24 at 10:59 +0000, MJ Ray wrote:
> The need for imposing terms to mean changing terms rather than just
> associating the term with the action is not at all clear to me.

Well, given that the license is coming from the licensor rather than the
licensee, I don't see what the licensee is doing which could be called
"impose" in any meaningful way - they're just distributing a binary (or
whatever). Is giving someone a copy of the software "imposing" it on
them? They don't even need a license in order to receive and run the
work really...

> > 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. 
> We can clearly sever the licence!  There's the GPL and then the
> extras. To do otherwise would be arguing that "this License" in the
> GPL doesn't mean the GPL, but the GPL and some terms which weren't
> written when the GPL was.  I don't think that's tenable.

I disagree with that, FWIW. It doesn't really make any difference to the
argument, but I don't see why it matters who wrote what and when: the
critical factor is what's applied to the work by the copyright holder. 

Potentially, Red Hat have a different interpretation here which more
closely follows what I'm arguing than yours. For example:

By your reckoning, the last statement in that Exception (which I think
we'd all agree _is_ an exception ;) is effectively a no-op. By my
interpretation, it's not, because removing the Exception when you
redistribute would effectively be against sec. 6 of the GPL (that is, I
would say that _is_ imposing a further restriction beyond those set out
in the license text).

It would be interesting to explore the consequences of that logic a bit
further - fundamentally, exceptions to the GPL without a clause written
in to them as above would turn a license GPL-incompatible by my logic,
which would be a poor turn of events to say the least :D

> > 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. [...]
> That's only feasible if all the copyright holders are willing to grant
> the exception and it's rather asymmetric, allowing new code to be free
> software but not really freeing the original code.

Yeah, indeed - I didn't say it was nice, I was just saying it was
possible :)

It is asymmetric, but then, that's the exact same argument BSD-promoters
have with the GPL.

> I suspect there's some fundamental problem with this corner case that
> I'm too dim to spot today.

Well, let me know if you do spot it.



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