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Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- Brazilian GNUtian Oliva: "the GPL is not a

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- Brazilian GNUtian Oliva: "the GPL is not a contract, it's a license"
Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2007 22:20:09 +0200

Kudos to Eben. :-)

Alexandre Oliva wrote:
> On Jun 22, 2007, "Tomas Neme" <> wrote:
> > The thing is, what matters in copyright and licencing matters is what
> > the author of the code understands, no the licence's author, if
> > ambiguous. And the kernel's rights holder is Linus.
> Since he didn't get copyright assignments, each contributor is the
> copyright holder of her/his own contribution.  And this means each
> holder gets a say on how s/he understood GPLv2.
> IANAL, but I think if Linus' intended interpretation had been
> clarified all the way from the beginning, he could have grounds to
> claim that everyone else had implicitly accepted that reading by
> contributing to the project.
> But since it was a decision made many years later, his clarification
> on his reading of the license is in a way an additional permission
> that affects only his own contributions; other authors are still
> entitled to try to enforce their understanding of the legal terms of
> the license, and they would have the spirit of the GPL and its
> preamble on their side to guide the interpretation.  Even if contract
> law states something like, in adhesion contracts, the party who writes
> the contract gives the other party the benefits of any ambiguity in
> the writing, the GPL is not a contract, it's a license, and per
> copyright law, licenses are to be interpreted restrictively.
> > Linus has the last word on it.
> In the sense that he can decide to remove all contributions from
> dissenting authors, yes, he does.  But he can't impose his more lax
> interpretation upon other authors.  Under copyright, it's the more
> restrictive reading that prevails, in that any holder who understands
> his rights are being trampled can enforce them.  And since at least
> one such author is vocal in his dissent, not even estoppel defenses
> would apply.  But IANAL.
> --
> Alexandre Oliva
> FSF Latin America Board Member
> Red Hat Compiler Engineer   aoliva@{,}
> Free Software Evangelist  oliva@{,}
> -


"In Brazil, this is kind of contract/license is called a beneficial


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