Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Alexandre Oliva aoliva at redhat.com
Tue Jul 22 23:42:01 UTC 2008

On Jul 22, 2008, Les Mikesell <lesmikesell at gmail.com> wrote:

> Licenses often impose terms you must meet as a condition of granting
> those rights.

Those are not (pure) licenses, those are license agreements.
Agreements as in contracts.  Contracts are meeting of minds and mutual
obligations.  The GPL is a unilateral grant of rights.

>> I honestly don't see any "agreement not to do".  I see permissions.

> Permissions you get when you agree to the license terms.

Still, where's the "agreement not to do" you allegedly agree to when
you accept the license, that you referred to as "prohibitions" and
"restrictions" of the GPL?

> 2b says that if you accept the license - and you are not free to
> redistribute the gpl-only parts if you don't - that the terms must
> apply to all components.

Point is, even if you do apply those terms, they don't take anything
away, because they are unilateral permissions.

> Permissions aren't the point - it is what you agree to do.

You agreed to accept the right to do a number of things.

>> It's a bit like Schrödinger's cat.  Until you open the box and check
>> (i.e., do something that one of the licenses don't permit), the cat is
>> both dead and alive ( i.e., you are operating under both licenses at
>> the same time).

> At this point you've agreed to apply GPL terms to the whole work.

Nope.  You can always claim you merely distributed the work under the
other license.  That the copyright holder of the work chooses to grant
both licenses to the recipients is of no concern to you.  Unless you
distribute in a way that doesn't comply with one of the licenses.
Only in this case can someone else conclude that that was not a
license you were operating under.  (because otherwise it would have
been copyright infringement).

> Even though they can't exactly force you to apply their terms to other
> people's work,

No pure copyright license can.  The farthest it can reach is derived
works.  If other people's work are not derived works, they're
necessarily outside the scope of the GPL, unless you choose to make
them part of a derived work.  If you can decide whether to combine
them or not, you're not being forced.

> They withhold your freedom to redistribute

Your freedom to redistribute is respected.  There's no such thing as
"freedom to choose whatever license you want" in the FSD.  Choosing
licenses is not freedom, it's power.

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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