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Re: GPL and linking

I haven't replied in detail to Batist yet because I am still digesting
the hash that Babelfish makes out of his Dutch article.  And I don't
entirely agree that the GPL is horribly drafted, by comparison with
the kind of dog's breakfast that is the typical license contract.  In
the past, I have tried to draft something with similar legal meaning
myself, and on review I did a really lousy job.

I have used the GPL, and will probably use it again (emphatically
without the "upgrade option") the next time it comes up, as the
default license under which I provide source code for software I write
primarily for a client's internal use, insofar as "work made for hire"
provisions do not apply.  As such, I have gone out on quite a limb in
this discussion, possibly giving a future legal opponent grounds for
estopping me from making certain arguments in a courtroom.  So be it.

On 5/9/05, Humberto Massa <humberto.massa@almg.gov.br> wrote:
> Batist, I think you are mistaken about the meaning of the "any later
> version" copyright license... the terms are precisely '' This program is
> free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms
> of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software
> Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any
> later version. '' and they mean that said program is dually-triply-etc
> licensed under the GPLv2 or v3 or v4 or any other upcoming FSF-GPL, at
> the licensee's discretion.

I used to think it extroardinarily unlikely that this formula, with
regard to as-yet-unwritten offers of contract, would have legal force
in any jurisdiction.  The prevalence of similar terms in shrink-wrap
software licenses nowadays -- which I abhor, and blame directly on
RMS, Eben Moglen, and the FSF -- has eroded that confidence to some
degree.  If it were ever to come up in a court case in which I
personally was involved, I envision disputing its validity to the last
breath.  (I reserve the right to do otherwise, of course.)

> I am a defender of the GPLv2. I am not a defender of the GPLv3 because I
> don't know its terms yet... :-) I don't know why would anyone license
> their work under yet-undisclosed terms, but...

I too am a defender of the GPLv2 under an interpretation which I
believe to be correct under the law in the jurisdiction in which I
reside.  As to gambling on future license texts: I find it
uncomfortable enough to live in a society in which disputes on all
scales are frequently settled by reference to a corpus of law of which
no human being can possibly retain more than a small fraction in his
or her brain, and which is perpetually being evolved and ramified by
legislatures, courts, and unspoken consensus.  The existence of 
persons who would knowingly further complicate their lives by handing
over additional liberties to a person who publishes opinions such as
http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/enforcing-gpl.html appalls me but has
ceased to amaze me.

- Michael

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