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Re: GNU License, Again

From: mike3
Subject: Re: GNU License, Again
Date: 26 May 2007 11:40:47 -0700
User-agent: G2/1.0

On May 26, 4:01 am, David Kastrup <> wrote:
> mike3 <> writes:
> > On May 26, 1:45 am, David Kastrup <> wrote:
> >> If you want to get a somewhat coherent presentation of the
> >> motivations behind the GPL, I recommend that you rather concentrate
> >> on the links he provides and skip his own exegesis.
> > I looked through them but there is a lot there and I haven't yet
> > found anything that would really specifically answer my
> > question.
> You might want to read the GNU Manifesto.  It is quite outspoken.
> While the connection to the GPL might not seem apparent, the GPL is a
> legal document, and so there is little place (except in the preamble)
> for philosophy or motivation.
> And indeed, in the preamble you'll find the following:
>       The licenses for most software are designed to take away your
>     freedom to share and change it.  By contrast, the GNU General
>     Public License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and
>     change free software--to make sure the software is free for all
>            ^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> Note that this does not talk about "a particular piece of free
> software".

Yes, it just says free software, and I didn't talk about one specific
piece. I just talked about using some free code in general, that was
covered under the GPL.

>     its users.  This General Public License applies to most of the
>     Free Software Foundation's software and to any other program whose
>     authors commit to using it.  (Some other Free Software Foundation
>     software is covered by the GNU Lesser General Public License
>     instead.)  You can apply it to your programs, too.
>       When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not
>     price.  Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that
>     you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and
>     charge for this service if you wish), that you receive source code
>     or can get it if you want it, that you can change the software or
>     use pieces of it in new free programs; and that you know you can
>     ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> Note that this does specifically restrict the usage of parts to the
> creation of "new free programs".  The GNU project is not interested in
> aiding the creation of non-free programs.  To the extent that it is
> legally permissable, the release of software under the GPL will not
> serve to make it easier to create non-free software.

So therefore then the reason for demanding that the totality of a
combined work also be free, not just the originally free GPL parts
that were included in it, follows from this.

>     do these things.
> > None of the stuff I've found explains why the entire source code of
> > a combined work must be released -- most of the rationale could seem
> > to be appeased with simply releasing only the free GPL program that
> > was used in the non-free or non-GPL one.
> The GPL is not designed to help with creation of non-free software.
> You are out on your own except where the law itself restricts the
> compass of copyright.

Or if the author grants a different license.

> > Maybe it's just that I am not familiar with the extreme subtleties
> > of Gnutianism, however none of the provided material seems to do the
> > trick...
> There is actually no subtlety involved at all.  The GNU project will
> not support the creation of non-free software, to the extent that the
> law will permit.
> Any subtleties revolve solely about how far the law actually extends.
> In the U.S. jurisdiction, the purported extent of copyright law, as
> put forward by typical case law, is shere lunacy.  It is to the best
> interest of the FSF to claim the full extent of this lunacy for their
> interpretation of copyright law and the GPL.
> One of the best things that can happen to them if this extent gets cut
> down in court, and thus case law gets established that _restricts_ the
> extent of copyright law as interpreted by the courts.  So even if the
> FSF might be going out on a limb, it is because they only have to gain
> if the limb breaks off: the consequences will be the same for both
> proprietary and free software's control over derivatives and related
> work.
> It does not appear, however, that those positions will actually get
> challenged by important players: they stand too much to lose
> themselves if the assumed rules change.

So then by allowing the non-free part of a derivative to be
non-free and only the free part to remain free then it is, in
a way, supporting the creation of more non-free software
because it (said non-free software) still uses the functionality
of the free software piece.

> --
> David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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