Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Gordon Messmer yinyang at eburg.com
Thu Jul 24 22:20:28 UTC 2008

Les Mikesell wrote:
> Gordon Messmer wrote:
>> I strongly recommend that you read:
>> http://www.softwarefreedom.org/resources/2007/gpl-non-gpl-collaboration.html 
> I see they recognize one of the problems the GPL causes:
>  "When working in a large GPL’d codebase, it is very easy to change
>   the work in a way that causes the GPL to cover files that, in
>   isolation, were previously covered only by permissive terms."
> But I don't see any solution.

The solution is: don't add GPLed code to *files* that contain code under 
more permissive licenses.  Instead, keep GPL licensed code in separate 
files in order to more clearly communicate what code is GPL licensed and 
what code is not.

>> The first paragraph (a summary) addresses your concerns.  It 
>> illustrates two points:
>> 1) you must comply with the included work's license, because it 
>> continues to apply when included in a GPLed work.
> Not necessarily, because it can't be included unless the GPL applies.

Any code under a compatible license can be combined with GPL code.  The 
GPL applies to the "work as a whole", but does not remove the license 
from the other parts which are under compatible licenses.  They can be 
removed from the GPLed work and reused under their original license, as 
protected by copyright law, and as outlined by the link above.

>> 2) users who receive your GPLed work may extract the included work and 
>> reuse it according to its original license, because it continues to 
>> apply when included in a GPLed work.
> But they can't comply with both licenses at once - they have to choose 
> one or the other.  And, as your link points out, this can be problematic.

It doesn't point that out at all.  The example that you posted above 
merely indicates that if you put GPL licensed code in the same file as 
code that is more permissively licensed, it can be very difficult for 
the recipient of your work to determine what code in that file is 
covered by which license.  The GPL doesn't actually change the terms of 
the permissively licensed code.

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