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Re: webmin license

Seth David Schoen wrote a lot of interesting things, which raise some

> Let's take a whirlwind tour through the portions of the GPL which talk
> about its applicability in order to see why this is so.
> You don't get to modify the GPL:
> 	Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
> 	of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

What exactly does this mean? Am I allowed to, for instance 
(1) run some 'sed' script with the GPL on stdin and use the result?
(2) cut and paste pieces of the GPL into another document (like you did)
(3) write a licence in which certain parts are identical to the GPL, but
    others are not (and parts are missing too)
(4) read the GPL carefully and then write something very similar

I would consider all of these as changing the GPL, except that of course the
original GPL will still exist, and I will not call the modified versions GPL.
It would seem that the GPL states that any document sufficiently based on GPL
that GPL's copyright applies to it (as would seem to be the case at least for
(1-3) above) can only be legally distributed if it is in fact identical to the
original GPL (never mind that this seems to contradict the possibility of
evolvution of the GPL itself; are owners of a copyright exempt from the
conditions in its very licence?). If it would have intended to say: "no
document that is not identical to this one shall be called GPL", then it could
easily have done so, so I suppose a stronger interpretation is called for. But
this would make for instance the licence of the linux kernel (which includes
the GPL with some introductory text) violate the copyright on the GPL.

> 	[i]f you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your
> 	obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations,
> 	then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all.
> Summary: if someone says "You may distribute this under the GPL, except
> never to person X", then either
> 	- You may distribute it to someone under the pure GPL, without
> 	  that additional stipulation, and then that person may distribute
> 	  it to person X, or
> 	- "[A]s a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all."
> Which of these is true is left as an exercise for the lawyers, but the
> GPL does not contemplate a third alternative.

I don't see what would give you the right to the first option. In fact I
think you argued elsewhere that the second one definitely applies. But this is
not just an exercise for the lawyers; it means for instance that Debian should
immediately stop distributing "remind", even in non-free, since they obviously
lack the right to do that!

Marc van Leeuwen
Universite de Poitiers

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