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Re: Dangerous precedent being set - possible serious violation of the GPL

On Mon, Nov 29, 1999 at 10:54:42AM -0700, Richard Stallman wrote:
> I looked at the web page you sent me.  It does not seem to violate
> the GPL as regards the GPL-covered programs included in it,
> although there are some subtle issues I haven't yet figured out.
> It does say that some non-free programs are included in the system.

Given that Corel is in the business of selling proprietary apps such as
their WordPerfect program, this should come as very little surprise.  I
can't think of a single distribution advertising ease of use (referring to
use by newbies of course) shipping without Netscape.

In fact, I think Debian is the only major dist not to include it on the
CDs (and as I discovered today far too many other things in main tell you
that you should consider installing netscape...  This discovery came as
part of the discussion related to removing packages' Suggests which go
into contrib and non-free (netscape is certainly non-free))

Since doing this reached a consensus already, I doubt there will be many
major objections now to it.  The same discussion of individual packages
infolved did bring up my original objection---that removing the suggests
will make it harder for people to find things like "gimp-nonfree" (which
is IMO badly named considering that the contents of the package are
completely free--unless you live in the drain-bamaged US where LZW is
patented and Unisys wants to make a fast buck off GIF files..)

Hopefully however I can convince people *finds a fresh cluebat* that free
code doesn't belong in non-free because the USPTO is run by a bunch of
Clueless Morons(tm)...  Such packages IMO rightly belong in non-US/main
along with crypto code and anything else we can put there that is free and
people should have access to.

> The tendency (which did not start here) to increasingly accept
> non-free software as part of the "Linux" system is very dangerous.
> I don't think that the term "precedent" is appropriate for instances
> of this, but the overall tendency could negate the good that we have done.

I'm more concerned with the idea of having to agree to be bound by a web
form license (which is IMO not much better than shrinkwrap "licenses" that
proprietary software dealers have tried for a couple of decades now to
cram down our throats and convince us are legal contracts!) in order to
download free software.

And then there is this in the DFSG:

  9. License Must Not Contaminate Other Software

     The license must not place restrictions on other software that is
     distributed along with the licensed software. For example, the
     license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the
     same medium must be free software.

I think imposing additional conditions on the use of software downloaded
from Corel in fact contaminates EVERY license.  And while some of the
software in their distribution may allow such a restrictions to be added
by Corel to their licenses, I am quite convinced that the GPL forbids
additional restrictions placed on how GPL'd software may be used and by

Further I believe that requiring you to agree to these terms before you
may download any of the distribution is the same as adding restrictions to
the GPL'd software (you must agree to their proprietary software terms
before you can have the free software) whether they wish to claim those
restrictions only apply to their proprietary software or not.

I'm not a lawyer.  If I were I probably wouldn't be an IP lawyer, I'd have
too little respect for myself and might do something I might not live to
regret.  I'm just a developer with a big mouth (nobody will argue with
that I'm certain) and hopefully with at least half a clue as to what the
hell I'm talking about.  YMMV, slippery when wet, objects in mirror may be
closer than they appear, if this message breaks you can keep both pieces,
if you manage to break something else with this message you're probably
crazier than I am, no left turn, caution: contents under pressure.

(yes I got bored toward the end there..)

- Joseph Carter         GnuPG public key:   1024D/DCF9DAB3, 2048g/3F9C2A43
- knghtbrd@debian.org   20F6 2261 F185 7A3E 79FC  44F9 8FF7 D7A3 DCF9 DAB3
Techical solutions are not a matter of voting. Two legislations in the US
states almost decided that the value of Pi be 3.14, exactly. Popular vote
does not make for a correct solution.
        -- Manoj Srivastava

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