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Re: webmin license

Henning Makholm writes:

> 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 licenses under the unamended GPL.
> We're talking about a work which has *not* been licensed under the
> unamended GPL. The uamended GPL has *no* force whatsoever on which
> license terms are legal for that program.

That document did not attempt to amend the GPL.  It imposed _additional

> 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.

I have to ask you to look at the permission grant again.  Where and how did
the author in any way alter the GPL?

> > Therefore, these terms _do_ contradict the GPL,
> That is irrelevant. The GPL is not in force for the program in question.

Funny that the author says that (subject to some conditions) the program
may be distributed under the GPL, rather than some other license.

Sorry, the GPL is _very clear_ about the impermissibility of additional
restrictions outside of its own text.  It doesn't make any sense to say
that the GPL can be casually amended and modified by the wave of a magic
external clause when every ounce of the GPL is specifically designed to
resist and contradict an attempt to do that.

You may say that the author's obvious intent (or at least obvious desire)
was to amend the GPL, which is true enough, but that doesn't save the
program from the sin of contradiction.  If I put out a program under a
self-contradictory set of requirements, I can't be saved by my fervent
wish that these contradictory values _should have been_ compatible.  Perhaps
a court will pick and choose which one prevails.

The clearest way to show that the GPL can't be amended by the simple
expedient of imposing discriminatory restrictions on a program from the
outset  is to look at all the places in which the GPL talks about
distributors' obligations with respect to "this License".

	You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in
	whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any
	part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third
	parties under the terms of this License. [...]

	If 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. 

Note the capital "l" in "License".  When the GPL says "this License", it is
obviously referring to _itself_, the GPL, and not to some other conditions
that happen to have been imposed by a program author in a particular case.
It is easy to see that; just look at the beginning the GPL:

	Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
	of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.


	By contrast, the GNU General Public License is intended to guarantee
	your freedom to share and change free software--to make sure the
	software is free for all its users.  This General Public License
	applies to most of the Free Software Foundation's software and to
	any other program whose authors commit to using it.

So the new hypothetical "amended GPL" (on the strength of some additional
stipulations that were imposed by an author) "applies to most of the Free
Software Foundation's software"?

People have used GPL-based licenses in the past -- _with explicit changes
in the license document, and with the permission of the FSF_.  They thus
avoid the confusing situation of having a program that might appear to be
licensed under a hypothetical license of which no copies actually exist
and which claims to be used by the FSF for most of its own software while
discriminating against a particular company.

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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