Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Thu Jul 24 04:34:44 UTC 2008

Alexandre Oliva wrote:

>> 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.
> The "or" denounces your syllogism.  The "must" is inappropriate when
> there's an alternative.

The alternative is not sharing any GPL-encumbered code at all.  Do you 
consider that a reasonable alternative?

> As explained above, because of copyright law, you end up without that
> freedom and right by default, even though you should have them.

You've inserted a radical political opinion there...  You are entitled 
to have it, of course.

> The
> GPL respects the freedom to (re)distribute the program that you're
> entitled to,

Only if you choose the alternative of giving up your own rights.

> restoring your right to do that which copyright law took
> away, but not restoring your power to control how others can use the
> work that you're using to derive another work you want to distribute.

I don't have a lot of power.  Why should I give up any in order to share 

> The GPL doesn't require you to give up anything.

It requires you to give up the ability to share anything but 
GPL-encumbered parts in the covered work.  And to immorally take away 
that same ability to others who might contribute to it.

> It only restores
> some of your rights that copyright law took away, so that essential
> freedoms are respected for you and for every other user.

Requiring contributors to give up their rights is not respecting 
anyone's freedom.

>> But the point is that you also cannot impose fewer restrictions,
> 1. a grant of rights cannot possibly impose restrictions to whatever
> you could do before you received those rights.  It's a grant, so it
> adds.  It's not a contract, so it can't take away.

Per wikipedia, there are locations where is a difference between a 
license and a contract and locations where a license is treated the same 
as a contract.  I won't pretend to know the difference except that it 
means you are wrong in at least some places.

> 2. you can grant additional permissions as to any part of the whole,
> if you're the copyright holder for that part.  Nothing whatsoever
> stops you from doing that: not copyright law, not any copyright
> license.

You could make it available separately under a different or multiple 
licenses but as part of a combined work the GPL says its own terms must 
apply to all components of the work when any part needs acceptance of 
the GPL to copy/modify/distribute.

>> Please point out any exception you can find to section 2b.
> Here:
>  * Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
>  * modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions
>  * are met:
>  * 1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
>  *    notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
>  * 2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
>  *    notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
>  *    documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
>  * 3. [rescinded 22 July 1999]
>  * 4. Neither the name of the University nor the names of its contributors
>  *    may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software
>  *    without specific prior written permission.
> additional permissions on top of those granted by the GPL.  No matter
> what the GPL says, you still have the permissions above as to any file
> in which these permissions are written down.

But it doesn't matter that someone else has given you permission to copy 
a part under different terms if you've agreed not to.  At least not in 
the locations where a license is treated like a contract. Or if you are 
used to honoring your agreements.

> What makes you think they're revoked just because the whole is under
> the GPL? 

Because you gave up the choice to use any other terms on a component 
when you agreed to the GPL demand covering the work as a whole.  You 
agreed that "These requirements apply to the modified work as a whole." 
  Without that agreement you are restricted from distributing anything 
covered by the GPL.

> Only your flawed theory that the GPL imposes restrictions
> that would somehow take away rights you had or received with the
> program.  Show what part of the GPL says "you give up rights you had
> before", or that "imposes restrictions", or hire a lawyer to explain
> this to you.

It is your agreement to its terms that impose these restrictions.  Or 
you have the copyright restrictions instead.

> Note: "you may do X as long as Y" is not a restriction, it's a grant.
> "you may not do Z under this license" is not a restriction, it's a
> statement of fact, if doing Z requires permission from the copyright
> holder.

It's at least equivalent to a requirement to pay for a copy.  I might be 
able to afford to pay some reasonable amount for a license, but I don't 
have much power and can't afford to give any up - and I consider it 
wrong to demand that from anyone else.

    Les Mikesell
     lesmikesell at gmail.com

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