Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Alexandre Oliva aoliva at redhat.com
Thu Jul 24 20:34:57 UTC 2008

On Jul 24, 2008, Les Mikesell <lesmikesell at gmail.com> wrote:

> Rui Miguel Silva Seabra wrote:
>> I suggest your participate more into these communities, learn about the GNU
>> GPL (and not about some imaginary license you keep bringing about), and then
>> advocate it to the people who don't know.

> I can't advocate it because I believe its terms are immoral.

What's immoral about stopping you from harming others?

> Proprietary works are a side issue here as I am more concerned about
> the restrictions against combinations with MPL, CDDL, orginal BSD

Ok, good, let's move proprietary out of the picture and assume we have
a license that goes:

  You may run, study, modify and distribute the program, with or
  without modifications, in source or object format, as long as (i)
  you don't get in the way of anyone's enjoyment of the rights granted
  herein as to the software or any derived work thereof, and, (ii) if
  you choose to distribute the program or derived versions thereof, in
  source or object code form, you (ii.a) accompany it with complete
  corresponding source code, (ii.b) apply terms and conditions that
  extend to all downstream recipients the rights granted herein as to
  the software an derived works, and (ii.c) you don't enable
  downstream recipients to get in the way of anyone's enjoyment of the
  rights granted herein as to the software or any derived work

Let's call this SSCL, for Short Strong Copyleft Licenselet.  (Don't
assume, not even for a nanosecond, that this is something anyone
should use to license software before talking to a lawyer :-)

What are your objections to it, if any?

> do you think it is reasonable to
> require payment for your work in any field?

Sure.  What is not reasonable is to ask for more payment for my work
just because more people are using it.  If anything, the payment for
my work should be divided by all users, so that each of them pays
less.  Of course this is easy to implement.  I just compute how much
my work was worth, and charge that amount from whoever hired me to do
it.  Then I let them distribute the work however they like, even
charging for it so as to divide the amount they've already paid.  I
can also publish the work for anyone to use it, since I've already
been paid for it.  Right?

>> How can something that isn't there be taken away? The GNU GPL adds to
>> people's choices. The default is no choice at all.

> The GPL is no different than a proprietary license in that respect.

Actually, it is *very* different.  Proprietary licenses most often
don't let you copy or distribute the work at all, not under any other
license, not under themselves.  They don't respect your freedoms #2
and #3 no matter how you try to phrase it.

The GPL does respect it, even though it sets forth conditions to stop
you from not respecting others' freedoms.

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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