Re: FilterProxy and DFSG
(Note to readers: We are discussing specifically what happens if
Bob McElrath includes GPL'd code from another source in FilterProxy,
and we are both aware that he does not currently do this. I'm
including this note because I found myself explaining the situation
in every paragraph for fear of being misinterpreted.)
On Mon, Mar 12, 2001 at 06:49:59PM -0600, Bob McElrath wrote:
> Richard Braakman [email@example.com] wrote:
> > I realize that you can make an argument that the GPL does not
> > grant any usage rights in the first place. But it specifically
> > says in section 0, "The act of running the program is not restricted."
> > It gets complicated, so I'll let you make your own arguments :-)
> Shouldn't that sentence read:
> The act of running the program is not restricted [by this license]
> as, indeed, usage is not restricted by the GPL itself. It does not say
> that "The act of running the program MUST NOT be restricted".
> At any rate, as you say, I'm making the argument that the GPL does not
> grant usage rights in the first place...if anyone can argue this
> definitively one way or the other, I'd like to hear it.
I will try :-)
>From what I can tell, the reason the GPL limits its scope that way is
that its authors wanted it to be explicitly a contract based on
copyrights. Since copyright does not limit use, the GPL would have
no basis for its assertion in section 5 if it tried to restrict use.
(Section 5 is the one that goes, "You are not required to accept
this License ... However, nothing else grants you permission ...")
I think that you are actually in the same situation as the authors
of the GPL, and have no basis for the assertion in LICENSE
("By using this software, you agree to the terms of this license,
and the terms of the GPL"), UNLESS you make it a condition of
distribution, which would conflict with the GPL. (Anthony Towns
also made basically the same argument but at greater length.)
However, in some jurisdictions it may well be that usage is
not normally free. In particular, the DMCA and UCITA in parts
of the U.S. may have this effect. That would change the assumptions
on which the GPL was written, and I may recommend to the FSF to
create a new version that addresses this.
(This reminds me of another thing, your LICENSE specifically
names version 2.0 of the GPL. If you include code that has the
"and any later version" clause (according to section 9), then
that would conflict.)
I think I'll stop here and ask why you believe that the "By using
this software, you agree..." statement is true. I've learned on
Usenet not to make up the other side's arguments in a discussion :-)
Note that section 5 might be interpreted in a stronger way when
considering distributed works. "You are not required to accept
this license, since you have not signed it" could be one of the
rights granted by the GPL, which the distributor may not restrict.
But I wouldn't want to argue that in court.
> > The next statement, "Any work derived from FilterProxy must include
> > this License in addition to the GPL", would also be a "further
> > restriction" under section 6.
> Again, if usage is not a right "granted herein", then requiring the
> secondary license is not a restriction on those rights.
In this case I'm talking specifically about the requirement to include
that extra file. I'm not sure whether that is irrelevant or a key
If distributors of the code are free to delete the LICENSE file, and
the GPL requires that you leave them that freedom, then you would
have to argue that LICENSE applies *even if* the file is not present.
This can be pretty hard to argue for other people's code, and it may
make usage requirements effectively impossible to add to GPL'd code.
(This is a different issue from them being legally valid)
> granted in the GPL? For the purpose of the GPL, is the GPL itself
> considered part of the software, or separate? Does the GPL fall under
> the GPL? Likewise, is any other license part of the software itself?
I think neither license is covered by the GPL. The GPL (section 0)
applies only if the copyright holder says it applies. In addition,
as far as I know, contracts are not themselves copyrightable. So
the actual license text cannot be covered (though your rationale
could be, depending on how you define "FilterProxy").
> Not trying to be argumentative here...just trying to figure this all
So am I. I'm actually quite concerned by the possibility that the
GPL may allow usage restrictions to be added by others, I think it
would be a serious bug in the GPL if it's true. That's why I'm
exploring every detail.