Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Alexandre Oliva aoliva at redhat.com
Sun Jul 20 23:59:44 UTC 2008

On Jul 20, 2008, Anders Karlsson <anders at trudheim.co.uk> wrote:

> I start to see why some corners of the Software industry call the
> GPL "viral" and other less complimentary things.

Yep.  It's a rhetoric technique called 'framing'.  Choosing words that
predispose your interlocutor to seeing things in a particular way,
generally favorable to the speaker's agenda.  It's unfortunately quite
effectively used in phrases such as "intellectual property", "piracy",
"digital rights management", "tax relief", "taliban" (= student),
"fundamentalist", "radical", "non-pragmatist", "rhetorics", and others
that require the interlocutor to work harder to locate and expose the
prejudices and agendas hidden behind the wording choice.

"GPL is viral" is particularly misguided because, while a virus often
jumps from one individual to another by mere contact, and it's
completely unable to reproduce without the infrastructure of the host,
the GPL can reproduce and live on its own, and it doesn't propagate to
independent works.  If it did, it wouldn't be a Free Software license
(or Open Source License, for that matter).

The GPL only propagates to derived works, which makes it an inherited
trait.  Freedom is the inheritance that GPLed programs leave to all of
their children.  And the parent program doesn't even have to die for
the children to enjoy the inheritance, and it makes no room for
inheritance disputes.

You can probably see why the opponents of software freedom wouldn't
want to label it as inheritance :-)

Alexandre Oliva         http://www.lsd.ic.unicamp.br/~oliva/
Free Software Evangelist  oliva@{lsd.ic.unicamp.br, gnu.org}
FSFLA Board Member       ¡Sé Libre! => http://www.fsfla.org/
Red Hat Compiler Engineer   aoliva@{redhat.com, gcc.gnu.org}

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