Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Sat Jul 19 22:10:33 UTC 2008

inode0 wrote:

>> Please explain how a work containing any GPL'd material can contain any that
>> is not covered by the GPL, given the 'work as a whole' provision in the
>> license.   While there are indeed licenses that permit their own terms to be
>> replaced by the GPL when used in this way, that means the terms _become_ the
>> GPL, not that different terms are or can be, by design, compatible.
> By definition a license is compatible with the GPL if it allows the
> work to be combined with GPL code and redistributed as a combined work
> under the GPL. There is no reason to redefine or explain this in any
> other way. 

The only reason not to explain that terms become the GPL in this context 
is to keep up the pretense that the terms of the original license are 

>Lots of licenses are compatible with the GPL.

Only the ones that permit effectively becoming the GPL.

>>> Some
>>> people value freedom for developers more than freedom for users.
>> Restrictions have nothing to do with freedom no matter how you spin it.
> Restrictions have nothing to do with anarchy, but they are the normal
> way people organize themselves to preserve freedom.

The GPL is a reasonable anti-competitive tool for someone who offers a 
program under a commercial license as well and wants to ensure that the 
open source version can never be improved more than his own.  But it has 
nothing to do with freedom, which would permit it to be improved in any 
way possible.

>> So drop the misrepresentation and make the license enumerate all of the
>> things it prohibits instead of hand-waving about freedom while in fact
>> preventing most of the possible ways of re-using the code.
> It is impossible to enumerate things like this just as it is
> impossible to enumerate all the ways people can harm each other.

Many licenses list things that are prohibited.  And it would be less 
deceptive if the GPL stated plainly that the covered code may not be 
improved and redistributed with anyone who wants to make their own 
choice about the license covering their own code that they add.  And it 
may not be improved by combining with existing code with existing and 
different terms.

> The
> intent of the GPL is to preserve the essential freedoms enumerated by
> the FSF. That is the clear intent, revisions are necessary as people
> invent new ways to circumvent the desired wishes of the copyright
> holders.

A license that was really about freedom would have no reason for anyone 
to need to circumvent it.

    Les Mikesell
     lesmikesell at gmail.com

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