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Re: Non-copyleft free software licenses...

Scripsit Sunnanvind Fenderson <sunnanvind@fenderson.com>

> 2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright 
> notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the 
> documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.

> Now, if anyone tries to distribute Microsoft Windows 95, or parts of it, 
> under the same terms as free BSDs, they'll get harassed by Microsoft 
> Corporation. Which is weird, since it says (again, in "ftp.exe") 
> "Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without 
> modification, are permitted".

In legal terms, Windows 95 is a "derived work", which means that it
contains code copyrighted by the Regents of the University of
California, and code copyrighted by Microsoft. To make copies of a
derived work, one needs *both* of

a) a permission to do so from the Regents of the University of
b) a permission to do so from Microsoft.

What the BSD copyright notice says is that anyone who reproduce the
notice automatically have item (a). It does not say anything at all
about item (b). Specifically it does not say that Microsoft needs
to make item (b) available to anyone at all.

> Oh, and in one of RMS's speeches (which I love, glad it's 
> available in ogg format), he implies that the GNU project could've made 
> a copylefted fork of X windows, but chose not to.

Same thing. For copying a work derived from X Windows, you need
permission from MIT, or the X consortium, or whoever owns that
copyright nowadays. Everybody has that. You also need permission
from whoever did the derivation (and presumably put in enough
intellectiual work to have a copyright of their own). If that happens
to be the FSF, they could have made their permission depend on
whatever they wanted, and they could also choose to limit their
permission to what the GPL describes.

The situation is different if the original work is GPL'ed. Imagine
that you create a derivation of GCC. Your derivation is then under the
joint copyright of you and the FSF. Before *you* yourself can (legally)
make a copy of your derived work to put on your web server or
otherwise distribute to other people, *you* need

a) a permission to do so from the FSF
b) a permission to do so from yourself

Here (b) is easy to obtain :-) but what the GPL says is that you're
only getting (a) if you agree to make (b) available to everybody under
terms that are at least as liberal as those set by the GPL.

That clear?

Henning Makholm       "`Update' isn't a bad word; in the right setting it is
                 useful. In the wrong setting, though, it is destructive..."

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