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[Linus jumps in] Re: "News" Pesach and GPL :-)

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: [Linus jumps in] Re: "News" Pesach and GPL :-)
Date: Tue, 03 Apr 2007 21:49:35 +0200

Alexander Terekhov wrote:

"I don't know why people do this, but guys, read
the GPL before you start commenting on it.

About the defese claims:

  - second bullet: Yes, the GPL *does* excplicitly
      state that the license does not cover use. See
      the very first paragraph: paragraph 0. It
      clearly says that only copying is limited, not
      running the program. There really *is* a
      difference between "using" and "distributing"
      as far as the GPL is concerned.

      For example, the "only using it" really *is*
      a defense if it's (a) mere aggregation, or
      (b) a network service (the so-called "ASP
      loophole") or (c) if you distribute just the
      *results* of the program (for example, I do
      not think a screen-shot can really be validly
      protected under the GPL - the screenshot is
      itself not really under the GPL).

      Stating otherwise is simply incorrect.

  - third bullet: "since the two are distributed
      together, they must both be released under the

      That's another *total* misreading of the GPL.

      READ the thing before commenting on it! In
      this case, look for "mere aggregation".

      People do it all the time - distributing GPL'd
      programs on the same CD with non-GPL'd
      programs, and it's even a requirement in the
      OSI definition that an open source license has
      to accept that!

      So it sounds like their defense is that it's
      "mere aggregation", and that really is a valid
      defense. Don't try to make it anything else!

In other words, people who defend the GPL should
do so with *correct* arguments, and should read
the GPL carefully before they do so, otherwise
the GPL-defense only looks bogus.

I don't know who is in the wrong in the case, and
since I don't read Hebrew, I can't really tell.
But stop writing obviously bogus GPL defenses that
have nothing to do with reality. That just makes
the GPL look bad, and it makes all your *other*
arguments suspect too.

For example, some of the other arguments really
do make it look like a GPL violation. There are
*real* things that the GPL requires, and that it
sounds like might have been violated, like the
requirement that you make the license for the
GPLv2 portions clear to people when you distribute
it, even if it's just "mere aggregation" and it's
not *all* GPLv2.

(Not to mention the obvious requirement of making
source available for all GPLv2 projects you do
distribute, etc etc. The GPL requires you to
do many things, but I'm pointing out that it does
*not* require you to do the things you state in
the article)

But having seen the bogus arguments, why would
anybody trust your *real* ones? There is clearly
mis-information about the GPL in the article,
maybe there is misinformation about the case
itself too?

It's entirely possible that it's a GPL violation,
but spreading incorrect information about the GPL
is certainly not going to help "protect" it.
Quite the reverse. It just makes the *valid*
arguments look weaker and more suspect!



"Q: One final question. We're seeing more and more devices, and I'm
thinking specifically of games consoles -- I know that my kids have one
in the house -- where there is no -- 

Richard Stallman: I wouldn't. You have to learn how to say no to your

Q: That's true, that's true, I wouldn't deny it. Now, there is no free
software at all for devices like this. 

Richard Stallman: That's why there is no possible ethical way you could
use one, and so you shouldn't have it."


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