Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Alexandre Oliva aoliva at redhat.com
Mon Jul 21 18:39:23 UTC 2008

On Jul 21, 2008, Les Mikesell <lesmikesell at gmail.com> wrote:

> Alexandre Oliva wrote:
>> I think you're pasting each other.  The question is just not related
>> with the sub-topic at hand, and it's ambiguous.

Heh.  -ENOENGLISH.  s/pasting/talking past/

> This part of the conversation started with someone claiming that
> some other licenses are 'compatible' with the GPL and my
> counterclaim that within the 'work-as-a-whole', no terms other than
> the GPL can apply.

Both claims are correct, in a way.  Licenses can be compatible with
the GPL if they grand the same permissions and don't object to the
same conditions and requirements of the GPL.  Nevertheless, once there
is some GPLed work in a whole, the work as a whole can only be
distributed under the terms and conditions of the GPL.

>> What do you mean by "include"?

> I mean as a part of what the GPL calls a work as a whole, where some
> part of that work is already covered by the GPL.

Include as in contains, then.

>> Now, what you're asking is about modules that are not derived works.
>> There's no reason to assume a module needs to include (in either
>> sense) GPLed code.  This doens't mean it's easy, practical or even
>> legally bullet-proof, but it's on this kind of argument that non-GPLed
>> modules for Linux are justified.

> Yes, that's really a separate issue, related to how modules operate.

How they operate is irrelevant to copyright.  What matters to
copyright is how they're created and distributed.

>>>> http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Licensing

>>> Those are licenses that can be usurped by the GPL requirements.

> I'm talking about within a work-as-a-whole, which is the only place
> where there is any concept of compatibility.

I'm sorry, even in this context, your statement above still doesn't
seem to me to match the contents of that web page.

> Some licenses do allow their own terms to be replaced by the GPL,

True, but these are very rare.  GNU LGPL and the Brazilian LPG-AP v2,
so far unpublished, are the only examples that come to mind.

Most licenses that are compatible with the GPL are compatible just
because they don't conflict with the terms and conditions of the GPL
in any way, so distributing the work under the GPL (without removing
the original license) is in perfect accordance with the terms and
conditions of the original license.

> but it's a one way trip and that copy of such code no longer has its
> original license terms.

Can you back this up?  All the evidence I've got suggests the exact

> On the contrary, Linus clearly stated that a module was not
> necessarily a derived work simply because it is loaded by the kernel
> and uses the services of the kernel.

That's correct.  This is not the same as saying that, just because a
module is loaded by the kernel and uses its services, it is NOT a
derived work.  It may or may not be a derived work regardless of that.

> Some people seem to think the story has changed recently,

On both sides :-)  (for such large values of recently as 1995+ :-)

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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