Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Gordon Messmer yinyang at eburg.com
Wed Jul 23 07:46:53 UTC 2008

Les Mikesell wrote:
> Alexandre Oliva wrote:
> In accepting it's terms you give up your freedom to 
> distribute any part of the work under different terms, including any of 
> your own that you might want to add.

Since you never had any such freedom under copyright law, you aren't 
giving anything up.

> You don't have just have 'permission' to redistribute under GPL terms, 
> you have a mandate not to distribute any part of the whole under any 
> other terms.  It's not unilateral - you must give up your freedom.

I don't believe that to actually be the case.  You've repeatedly 
insisted that the GPL replaces other license's terms, but I believe that 
you are mistaken.

If you take Project X, distributed under the GPL, and implement feature 
A under a BSD license, when you distribute your improved version, the 
GPL protects the users by guaranteeing them all of the rights covered by 
the GPL.  That is, you may not impose additional restrictions on their 
use or redistribution of your improved version of Project X.  This is 
what Alexandre is referring to as "power"; if you placed additional 
restrictions on your users, you would be exerting a kind of power 
granted by copyright law and restricting their freedom.

However, the GPL does not replace the terms of your license on your 
code.  If you grant users redistribution rights to the source code for 
feature A under a BSD license, then those users may use *that source 
code* in any way that's allowed by your license.  They can't use the 
entire work under your more permissive license, but they can use the 
source code that *you* wrote, as governed by *your* license.

Do you see, now, how the "work as a whole" clause does not replace the 
terms of your license?  The terms of your license will always apply to 
your code, and no other license can change that under copyright law. 
The GPL's terms must only be met when distributing the combined work.

More information about the fedora-list mailing list