Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Thu Jul 24 21:33:32 UTC 2008

Alexandre Oliva 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?

Locking you in a padded room would do that. And remove a lot of your 
other choices, as does the GPL.  It wouldn't be a good thing to do, though.

>> 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
>   thereof.
> 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?

It's not clear.  Would that permit a piece of covered code to be 
included in a CDDL-covered work and vice versa?   If so, it is less 
objectionable, but still harmful in the long run if if does not permit 
proprietary branches to come and go as they will.  History shows that 
much software that is currently freely shared was once developed as 
proprietary versions and there is every reason to expect more to appear. 
  Anything  that discourages proprietary software development will thus 
almost certainly reduce the quantity and quality of what can be shared 
in the future.

>> 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. 

One person should not have to bear the development cost of something 
that could be widely used.  But there is no fair mechanism to share it 
with GPL-covered code.

> If anything, the payment for
> my work should be divided by all users, so that each of them pays
> less.

Suppose it is a work that requires 10 people to complete.  Will you pay 
the other 9 up front first, knowing that any of them have the right to 
redistribute the code before you are paid?

> 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?

Why would your customer pay for that first copy, knowing no one else has 
to share the cost?  And you can't charge less than the full amount 
yourself, knowing that your first customer can undercut your price for 
any other copies.   How can there ever be a reasonably-shared price for 
a large set of users?

>>> 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.

Proprietary licenses let everyone make their own choices.  Except 
perhaps when other restrictions have permitted a monopoly to develop.

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

The GPL forces a choice between one kind of restriction or another.

    Les Mikesell
     lesmikesell at gmail.com

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