Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Wed Jul 23 13:50:17 UTC 2008

Alexandre Oliva wrote:
>>> 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.
>> Not even close. You must accept it or you are not free to redistribute
>> existing code.
> It's the kind of the opposite, actually.  By modifying the program or
> distributing it under the terms of the license, you indicate your
> acceptance, and there's no other way AFAIK to indicate acceptance.

Indication isn't quite the point, you either accept them or not.

>> In accepting it's terms you give up your freedom to
>> distribute any part of the work under different terms
> This is factually incorrect, and the most trivial example is that in
> which a program is available under more than one license.

Yes, but you have accepted the restriction to apply only the GPL terms - 
or not.  If not, then you can't do anything copyright would prohibit to 
the GPL-only components.

>> The restrictions are what apply if you don't give up the freedom to
>> choose you own terms for your own additions, or to add third party
>> components already under different terms.
> Where in the GPL is the "agreement not to do", or even the
> "requirement not to do" that you claim one would have to agree with in
> order to receive the permissions?

You agree to the whole thing - or not. There are a couple of 'or' 
choices in there, like how to distribute source, but other than that it 
is a yes or no choice, covering all of the work as a whole.

>> 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.
> That's the result of a mistaken reading, see above.  You're still
> holding to this notion of restriction that you made up or were misled
> to believe in.

Please show me the part that permits selectively treating components 

>>>> Permissions aren't the point - it is what you agree to do.
>>> You agreed to accept the right to do a number of things.
>> But what you must agree to in the GPL covers the work as a whole, not
>> separate parts.
> Yep.  No denying you have the rights you accepted.  So what?  How
> *could* that take away any other rights you had before, given that a
> copyright license can only grant rights?

The same way any agreement you make works.  If you agree to do 
something, it doesn't matter that previously you had the right not to do 
it.  If you accept the GPL terms you give up the rights you had before.

>> Yes, if the whole work is dual-licensed.  But if only a component is,
>> you'll have to choose how you want to handle the work as a whole.
> Can you back this up?  Why do you think dual-licensing of the whole is
> special in any way?

You only have to agree to the GPL terms to obtain the rights it confers 
over GPL-encumbered parts.  If some other license in a dual-licensed 
work provides sufficient rights, you can ignore the GPL and not accept 
its terms.  However, if you do accept the GPL, there is no way to 
selectively ignore it's work-as-a-whole clause.

>> And then the code is not free, and you are not free to redistribute.
> That's not *re*distribution, BTW.  If you had received it like that,
> then someone else had a right to give it to you; if it was under a
> Free Software License, you most definitely have a right to pass it on,
> i.e., to *re*distribute it.  You're talking about a work you created
> yourself, so that's distribution of a modified work, freedom #3, not
> redistribution, freedom #2.

Its not that simple.  Say you receive a copy of a mostly bsd-origin work 
  previously modified by adding a few GPL-covered lines and applying the 
GPL to the whole as required for #3 at that step.  You now agree to the 
GPL terms in order to be permitted to give someone else a copy of the 
whole work.  At this point, you've agreed not to pick out parts of the 
code and distribute under the license of its origin.

>>>> 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.
>> Then your power is taken away if you would like to improve a work
>> covered by the GPL.
> Now you're talking about freedom again.  Your freedom to improve the
> work exists.

Only if you give up the right to choose the terms for your own work or 
to add existing components under any other terms.

> Your freedom to distribute the improvement is respected
> by the GPL, but not by the combination of the licenses you accepted.

Why do you consider that acceptable?  That is, why do you believe is it 
right for one license to have any affect on the terms of another?

   Les Mikesell
    lesmikesell at gmail.com

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