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Re: webmin license

Henning Makholm wrote:
> On Wed, 15 Dec 1999, Seth David Schoen wrote:
> > But that particular issue is moot as far as this license goes.  Since this
> > license does not even _attempt_ to modify the GPL, the interpretation of
> > the GPL is very clear and unambiguous: just as Brian says, the GPL forbids
> > this sort of thing (in particular, it forbids prospective distributors from
> > imposing or passing on additional restrictions).
> That applies to works that have been licensed under the unamended GPL.
> We're talking about a work which has *not* been licensed under the
> unamended GPL. The unamended GPL has *no* force whatsoever on which
> license terms are legal for that program.
> The fact that the author choses a set of license terms that share some
> clauses with the unamended GPL does not make the unamended GPL have any
> say over his actions. He chose a different license than the unamended
> GPL, and that different license is the *only* thing that can allow or
> forbid anything.

First, one may not amend the GPL, whatever this means exactly (see elsewhere).
Second the "remind" copyright notice explicitly references the GPL, without
any attempt to remove any items from it that contradict its own initial
clauses. So it is not just a matter of a similar but formally unrelated
licence. In fact, looking again at that file (/usr/doc/remind/copyright) it
says _literally_ (including the "[ .. snip .. ]"): 

   c) Except for situations (a) and (b), REMIND may be used and
      distributed according to the terms of the GNU General Public
      License, Version 2, which follows:

[ .. snip .. ] 

  See /usr/doc/copyright/GPL for the rest of the GNU GPL licence

I'm not sure whether that has been edited by the debian maintainer, or is
stated like that in the original (which I sincerely hope). In any case note
that "the rest of" is really a very inacurate description.

> Marc van Leeuwen <maavl@mathlabo.univ-poitiers.fr> writes:
> > 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!
> That reasoning is plain wrong. OBVIOUSLY the author want to permit
> e.g. Debian to distribute the program. And what the author wants and
> clearly states is the ONLY thing that matters when it comes to
> copyright.

It's not a matter what the author wants (obviously or otherwise) but what the
licence states. What the author wants is contradictory (GPL and not GPL), and
what the resulting licence says (as Seth David Schoen eloquently argued) is
that the software therefore cannot be legally distributed.
> It does NOT matter what another random license that does not apply to
> the program says.

As I said, it is not just another random license, but one that is explicitly

Marc van Leeuwen
Universite de Poitiers

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