Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Alexandre Oliva aoliva at redhat.com
Sat Jul 26 13:23:12 UTC 2008

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

> Alexandre Oliva wrote:
>>> it has always been immoral to demand that others give up their rights.
>> Taking away legitimate rights, yes, that would be immoral. 

> Taking  away any right is immoral.

Like, let's say, taking away one's right to own slaves?

> A person who is respectful of others cannot demand to take their
> choices away.

Agreed.  But granting more choices that the person didn't have is
hardly similar to this.  And refraining from granting other choices
that the person wanted to get, but that would enable the person to
take away from others, might be "respectful" to the direct recipient
in some strange world, but not respectful of downstream users.

>> That's the reasoning behind copyleft.

> And it is clearly misguided, given that there is no value in what it
> provides, and much harm it what it takes away.

And yet, per your own arguments, sharing something that is undesirable
never harms the sharing you regard as good.  So why do you care?
Could you at least try to be consistent?

>> The only situation in which you're not able to share the code is when
>> it's part of a work that is based on someone else's work. 

> Would you care to estimate how many potential improvements that prohibits?

Not respecting users' freedoms can never be an improvement.

Being unable to combine GPLed code with code under some other license
is not something you can blame on the GPL alone.  It's always because
the other license is less permissive than the GPL, and for all other
copyleft licenses, because they were *designed* to be, to weaken the
plan of sharing of the GPL.  Now go take it up to *their* masterminds.

> There is no way to take any of the rights that the GPL conveys
> compared to copyright law without this clause being applied.

And what about *other* rights you might have received through other

> If there is any part where only the GPL applies you must accept the
> 2b terms or you can't share it at all.

That's false.  You only need to abide by the conditions in 2b *if* you
choose to modify the program, and distribute modified versions.

If you merely run the program, or distribute it in source code form
the way you received it, you don't need to abide by any of the
conditions of section 2.

> I'm talking about what the license actually says and what has to
> happen if you comply with it.

A license (rather than license agreement) is a grant of permissions to
do certain things, nothing but it.  The only thing you agree to is to
receive those permissions.  As long as you operate within those
permissions, you're covered.  If you operate outside them, you're not
covered by that license.  If you have another license that grants you
that permission, you're still covered.

>> Some key points to their assessment is:

>> those who learn to cooperate will benefit the most. We believe that
>> this cooperation should be based on mutually acceptable terms, and
>> that the best basis for cooperation is voluntary contributions.

> Do you not agree that cooperation should be voluntary? Or that you
> should have the right to make that voluntary choice?

No.  Quite the opposite.  It is a key point.  It is by no means wrong.

You're the one insisting that it's wrong for lots of developers to not
want their contributions to GPLed programs contributed to non-GPLed
efforts.  Consistency?

>> Based on our experience, we advise open-source developers to use the
>> least amount of copyleft necessary.
>> I.e., anecdotal evidence for an unsupportable belief,

> Unsupportable?  They are talking from experience.

In *one* project.  That's hardly statistically significant.  That's
what "anecdotal evidence" means.  How many other factors could have
influenced the outcome they observed?  Do they even mention any?  I
don't see that they do.

The reasoning behind this is akin to observing that the Brazilian
president doesn't have one of his fingers, and from that concluding
that Brazilians only have 9 fingers.  Anecdotal evidence leading to
unsupportable conclusions.

>> that they'd get more commercial contributions if
>> they "permitted commercial exploitation", while fear of commercial
>> exploitation was their primary motivator (misguided as it was) for the
>> choice of a strong copyleft license in the first place.

> Something that you make freely available can't be 'exploited' in any
> way that hurts it.  It can only be improved.

The recipients can be exploited, and that's the harm that the GPL
attempts to prevent.

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}

More information about the fedora-list mailing list