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Re: Dangerous precedent being set - possible serious violation o

[Apologies to anyone who no longer wants to be on this Cc: list -- I'll take
future follow-ups to debian-legal only, unless anyone asks to keep receiving

Caspian writes:

> On Tue, 30 Nov 1999, Wichert Akkerman wrote:
> > Previously Martin Schulze wrote:
> > > We are told that the installation routine is free software.  Though,
> > > only stubs have been made available, iirc.
> > 
> > If you go to ftp.corel.com and browse around you'll find the complete
> > sources.
> Here's my response to that-- whooptie-do. What bothers me is the trend of
> making a distribution out of 99% free software produced by other people,
> 1% free and non-free software produced by yourself, and then doing nasty
> things with the resulting mix.

This trend concerns me, too, but if you want to stop them, you will need
to show why what they are doing is not only nasty but also illegal.

Remember that the DFSG _prohibits_ licenses from forbidding the use of
non-free software in a distribution.

> But in Corel's case, they're taking a whole
> bundle of free software, making a little smidgen of free software
> themselves, adding some non-free software, then saying:
> 	* You can't download this mixture until you're 18.

I can redistribute any GPLed software I want under the Big Beard Agreement,
where, to get the software from me, you have to solemnly certify that you
have a big beard.

Once you have obtained a copy of the software, you have the right to
redistribute it freely.

> 	* This is Corel Linux (not Corel GNU/Linux). GNU who?

No comment. :-)

> 	* We retain title to this software distribution, even though it's
> 	  mostly not of our creation.

That is a misrepresentation of what the EULA says.

> 	* GPL? What GPL? I see no mention of the GPL in our license...

That is also a misrepresentation of what the EULA says.

> They're slapping this traditional proprietary software-like EULA on their
> distribution, despite the fact that it's primarily made out of free
> software!

Right.  It's not all free software.  See the GPL's "mere aggregation"
clause: the GPL does _not guarantee the freedom of an entire distribution_
because some or most of that distribution is under the GPL.  As long as
the proprietary license does not try to take away or limit any of the GPL's
public grants of rights with respect to GPLed software, it does not violate

Corel could say that only Canadians could use Corel Linux, if they wanted
to.  Since Corel Linux as a whole contains some proprietary software from
Corel, they are allowed to set such a condition.  Canadians who got a copy
of it could strip out the free portions and redistribute them.

Once again:

The GPL does not give you the power to dictate licensing terms to
distribution developers, as long as they do not restrict the rights granted
by the GPL.  If you don't like Corel's distribution terms, you could

- Not use Corel Linux

- Discourage other people from using Corel Linux

- Register EULA.org and set up you.should.not.accept.the.Corel.EULA.org,
  and send e-mail from an account there (acknowledging Corel's trademarks)

- Discourage the Debian Project as a whole from helping Corel Linux

- Take all of the free software in Corel Linux and make your own distribution.
  You could call it LEROC GNU/Linux, for "LEROC's, Eh, Reminiscent Of
  Corel(R)", and license it under whatever terms you prefer.

All of these strategies are available to you without any requirement or
suggestion that Corel has infringed anyone's copyright.

> Something's gotta be legally amiss here, IMHO.

Why?  There are all sorts of unethical, distasteful, or just unfortunate
things that are not illegal.  If everything questionable or regrettable
was illegal, we would have much less freedom than we presently do.

Corel's EULA means that they are getting bad publicity, and ill will from
some Debian developers, who may be less eager to collaborate with Corel.
Maybe that will cause Corel to conclude that they need to clarify some of
the points that are making people upset, or maybe they will ignore the

But if you want to call their behavior _illegal_, you need to show why it
is illegal.

Seth David Schoen <schoen@loyalty.org>  | And do not say, I will study when I
Temp.  http://www.loyalty.org/~schoen/  | have leisure; for perhaps you will
down:  http://www.loyalty.org/   (CAF)  | not have leisure.  -- Pirke Avot 2:5

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