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Re: plagiarism of reiserfs by Debian

On Sun, Apr 20, 2003 at 01:24:09AM +0200, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
> Op za 19-04-2003, om 22:51 schreef Lukas Geyer:
> > the issue seems to be the fix of #152547. If we are not allowed to
> > remove a screenful of advertising from the output of a program, then
> > this unduly restricts the freedom to distribute modified versions.
> Uhm.
> From the GPL, section 2:
>     c) If the modified program normally reads commands interactively
>     when run, you must cause it, when started running for such
>     interactive use in the most ordinary way, to print or display an
>     announcement including an appropriate copyright notice and a
>     notice that there is no warranty (or else, saying that you provide
>     a warranty) and that users may redistribute the program under
>     these conditions, and telling the user how to view a copy of this
>     License.  (Exception: if the Program itself is interactive but
>     does not normally print such an announcement, your work based on
>     the Program is not required to print an announcement.)
> Otherwise put: if the program shows the 'no warranty' clause from the
> GPL at startup, you may not remove it. Although a 'no warranty' message
> is certainly not the same as a list of sponsors, they both require some
> messages being printed for legalese reasons. I, personally, see nothing
> wrong with that; it certainly doesn't result in software being non-free.

I disagree.  Some people on the debian-legal list feel that GPL 2c is
only barely tolerable from a DFSG-freeness standpoint, and some also
feel that it is ambiguously worded (see the debian-legal archives for
the gory details -- it's in the "PHPNuke license" thread, which is

GPL 2c only requires the presence of a copyright notice, warranty
disclaimer, notice that the work is licensed under the GNU GPL, and
instructions on how to view the license text.

A list of sponsors is none of these.  Preservation of such is not
required by the GNU GPL itself.  Therefore this material can be removed
under the permissions granted in section 2.  If such a restriction is de
facto being imposed by the copyright holder, then the work is not
actually licensed under the GPL, but rather the GNU GPL plus extra
restrictions, and as a result is not GPL-compatible.  If the work
dynamically links to or otherwise incorporates other copyright holders'
GPLed works, then as a consequence of section 7 of the GNU GPL, Debian
cannot distribute this work *at all*.  Not even in non-free.

Of course, to put this discussion in proper perspective, given some of
the provisions of the "GNU Free Documentation License"[1], it may be
that a future version of the GNU GPL permits copyright holders to compel
the display of arbitrary amounts of material on program startup.  GNU
Emacs, for instance, may be altered to display the GNU Manifesto in the
scratch buffer at startup, and it may be against the terms of this
future version of the GNU GPL to defeat this behavior.  So, the sort of
thing the author of the work in question is doing may actually be
perceived by the FSF as a good thing, and future versions of their
licenses may not only support it, but encourage it.

If all of this sounds surprising to people on debian-devel, I suggest
they subscribe to, or review the archives of, the debian-legal mailing

[1] http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html

G. Branden Robinson                |      We either learn from history or,
Debian GNU/Linux                   |      uh, well, something bad will
branden@debian.org                 |      happen.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |      -- Bob Church

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