Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Fri Jul 25 13:25:09 UTC 2008

Gordon Messmer wrote:
>>> 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.
>> That may be what the link says.  It's not what the license actually says.
> It *is* what the license says.  It's just not what you *think* the 
> license says.  You're confusing your interpretation of what the license 
> says, for what the license says.

Which part of this do you imagine you can selectively ignore?

   "b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in
     whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any
     part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third
     parties under the terms of this License."

"This License" includes "this section"...  There's no room to interpret 
that as saying "or some other license you found on some web page" or to 
not include parts of the work that happen to be in separate source 
files.  Yes, you might get way with ignoring it in some circumstances 
but it would be dishonest at best if you've agreed to the license terms 

>> It says it does within the distribution as a whole.  If the terms 
>> don't apply would it mention the work-as-a-whole at all?
> The terms do apply to the "work as a whole".  When a piece of code under 
> a compatible license is removed from the work, it is no longer a part of 
> the whole, and the original license applies.

But if you agreed to the GPL in order to be able to share the whole 
work, you've agreed to apply its terms to all parts.  You may get away 
with not doing that, but then you are not following the terms you agreed to.

> You do not, and can not, change the license on software that you didn't 
> write.

Per section 2b, you cannot distribute any of a GPL'd work unless you 
apply exactly the GPL terms to all of it.  Other copies of that existing 
work would not be affected, of course, and there might be subsequent 
circumstances where someone did not have to agree to the GPL on a 
received copy and could selectively pick a piece out under its original 

> You do not change the license on code by including it in a GPLed 
> work.  Any code that you include, written by someone else, remains under 
> their license.

If the license does not permit distributing under exactly the GPL terms, 
you can't include it at all.  Otherwise you'd be (sensibly...) permitted 
to include any code you were allowed to redistribute.  But that's not true.

    Les Mikesell
     lesmikesell at gmail.com

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