Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Mon Jul 21 02:33:00 UTC 2008

Matthew Saltzman wrote:
> What I want to do is take a GPL work and a work licensed under one of
> those other free licenses and combine them with code that I write and
> release under some free license (not necessarily GPL, but still free)
> and release the whole to the world.  As a scientist, my interest is in
> building on knowledge created before to create new knowledge and solve
> new problems, and in telling the world about my discoveries.  I have no
> interest in "using software for stealing money from others' bank
> accounts", and frankly, I resent the accusation.
> If the free license of the second work or the free license that I would
> choose for my own work is GPL-incompatible, my freedom to disseminate
> the new knowledge I create is restricted by the requirement of the GPL
> that the work as a whole be licensed under the GPL if any part is.

Given the intentionally divisive nature of the GPL, about the only way 
to make something simultaneously restricted by the GPL and yet less 
restricted at the same time is to package your work in a library that 
has a dual license like Perl's - one is the GPL, one without the 
restrictions where the choice is up to the distributor/user.  Larry Wall 
was very clever in this approach to making his work usable in any 
context.  You aren't bound by license terms on your own work or where 
you are the copyright holder and you can release different 
versions/copies under different terms.  If you want to give others the 
same choices, though, a dual license makes it clear what you want to permit.

> There are many others.  As far
> as I know, the GPL is the only "free" license that places restrictions
> on code that is not part of the program being licensed.

That's the wrong way to say it because fanatics will jump in to point 
out that it can't place restrictions on other code.  Instead, say it 
does not permit redistribution when other components are covered by 
different terms.  The effect is the same, though.

   Les Mikesell
    lesmikesell at gmail.com

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