Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Wed Jul 23 13:00:33 UTC 2008

Gordon Messmer 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.

That makes no sense.  You do have the freedom and right to license your 
own work under any terms you want.  You do have the freedom and right to 
redistribute other works under other licenses, free or with other 
arrangements.  But you must give up your freedom and rights or you are 
unable to participate in distributing these things as part of a work 
that contains any GPL-covered material.

>> 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.

In the case of a fully dual-licensed work, you would be able to use the 
terms of the other license and ignore the GPL.  In the case of a 
combination, where any part of the work is strictly-GPL you will be 
required to accept the GPL terms to do anything copyright would 
prohibit.  And I see no possible way to accept the terms of the GPL on 
anything less than the work-as-a-whole as specificied in section 2b.

> 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.

But the point is that you also cannot impose fewer restrictions, or 
different restrictions, or no restrictions on the component you add or 
include from an existing less restricted project.  This component can 
exist on its own with other terms, but becomes encumbered by the GPL in 
situations where you are required to accept that license on any part of 
the work.

> 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.

It is not freedom, it is a restriction itself.

> 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.

Please point out any exception you can find to section 2b. Or how you 
can 'unaccept' the terms the GPL specifies once you have accepted them.

> Do you see, now, how the "work as a whole" clause does not replace the 
> terms of your license?

No, I don't see that. I see no way to accept any GPL terms other that 
the way it specifies - covering the work as a whole.  If you could, you 
could as easily include proprietary components with different licenses 
and ignore the terms on that part.

> 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.

Accepting the GPL terms is what you must do to be permitted to 
distribute or anything prohibited by copyright.  But then there is no 
provision for unaccepting it while you do something it wouldn't permit 
to some part of the work.  At that point you've agreed that you wouldn't.

   Les Mikesell
    lesmikesell at gmail.com

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