Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Matthew Saltzman mjs at clemson.edu
Wed Jul 16 18:48:17 UTC 2008

On Wed, 2008-07-16 at 11:04 -0500, Les Mikesell wrote:
> Alexandre Oliva wrote:
> > 
> >> You seem to be implying that the GPL is necessary for cooperation.
> >> That is just not true.
> > 
> > Agreed.  It's just better for everyone involved in the cooperation
> > than permissive licenses.
> No it isn't.  There is never a down side to permitting additional uses. 
>   They never reduce the possibilities for the original work.
>    To understand why, have a look at
> > http://www.lsd.ic.unicamp.br/~oliva/papers/free-software/BMind.pdf
> Your scenarios have nothing to do with real-world possibilities. You 
> need to permute your license cost chart for all possible recombinations 
> of code components and note the places where you can't even make an 
> entry.  Imagine if the reference TCP implementation had been GPL'd and 
> no commercial systems used it because of the restrictive license.  We'd 
> still be struggling to make any two different systems communicate today.
> >> Again, the fact that under certain restricted conditions it may be
> >> possible to reuse the code does not eliminate the damage caused by the
> >> restrictions that prevent many other uses.
> > 
> > /me refers to the 1-month-ago thread on fedora-devel in which I
> > thought it had become clear that GPL didn't impose any such
> > restrictions, it was copyright law that did.
> That's equally true and equally irrelevant, for those proprietary 
> licenses that you don't like, so its not much of an argument, especially 
> from you.  Saying that the GPL is better than a sharp stick in the eye 
> still doesn't make it a good thing.

Rather than say that the GPL "restricts" the ability to engage in
certain types of cooperation, we could just say it "disdains to permit"
those types of cooperation.  Then we can avoid the distracting argument
about whether the fault lies with the GPL or copyright law.  

Clearly, the intent to permit or not permit cooperation lies with the
author of the work and is embodied in the terms of the license--in
particular, whether the license does or does not explicitly relax the
restrictions of copyright law.  Copyright law just defines the default
condition in case there is no explicit grant of license.

                Matthew Saltzman

Clemson University Math Sciences
mjs AT clemson DOT edu

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