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An Open Letter of Thanks to Alexander Terekhov

From: Nick Daly
Subject: An Open Letter of Thanks to Alexander Terekhov
Date: Mon, 08 Feb 2010 01:03:45 -0600
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.3 (gnu/linux)

Dear Alexander,

I just wanted to compose a little note thanking you for your recent work. You've clarified a few licensing questions that I've had by getting me thinking and providing the best-ever examples of the most important details. In reference to the GemRB project and it's separate-but-associated-installer, I was troubled, as both the project and its installer are distributed together, but will soon be under different versions of the GPL. Thus, two licenses would exist across a single project. Fortunately, you provided the most eloquent guidance to the situation's solution with your incessant nattering about the interpretation of "mere aggregation" and "interpretation". Best I could understand, you were arguing that the "mere aggregation" clause requires all co-distributed software to be under a single version GPL if any of it is under the GPL. Then an idea occurred to me: to clarify the situation, why not look at precedent? Not the precedent of the courts of which there is very little precedent (for better or worse) to go on. No, instead, look at the precedent of history itself. If your interpretation of "aggregation" were correct, the Debian project would've been sued out of existence over a decade ago by Richard Stallman himself or it wouldn't distribute any GPLed software as the GPL would contradict their `Debian Free Software Guidelines`_ (number 9). Obviously, neither of these situations is true so the "mere aggregation" clause, as otherwise pointed out, must apply only to "derivative works" as defined by the FSF. .. _`Debian Free Software Guidelines`:

I wondered about that for a few days; why your argument would shed so much light on the situation. Then another idea occurred to me: why you focus on the interpretation of "interpretation" itself. You have a rather unusual argument style - you have a fantastic desire to quote other authorities in your arguments. Some of your posts are literally nothing more than other's articles, but that strategy underlies your method of argument. You quote anyone's opinion as long as they agree with your position, whether or not they're actually qualified and positioned to make the decisions. Interpretation, as you make abundantly clear, is important because interpretation differs. However, an interpretation matters only when it's the interpretation of someone actually in a position of power to make a decision in the first place. It's like saying elections are decided by pundits instead of the people. It's similar to the truth, but still wrong in essence and example. Finally, thanks for pointing out the Moglen presentation, that was an interesting listen. So, basically, Alexander, thank you. Thank you for pointing out the flaws in your arguments by precedent and counterexample and by furthering the purpose of all those annoying acronyms that protect the creative freedoms of the downstream software user. Seriously, if your effort was to strengthen the philosophical basis and position of the GPL, you've done a great job. You're a really cool undercover GNU agent. Thanks! Nick -- GPG: 0x4C682009 | 084E D805 31D8 5391 1D27 0DE1 9780 FD4D 4C68 2009

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