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Re: The GPL license document "COPYING" is not DFSG-free

Number Six wrote:

> What's the dispensation on this:
>  Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
>  of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.
>                                ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> I thought the whole hoopla over GFDL was invariant sections.
> The entire GPL license is non-modifiable.
> (1) Doesn't this mean that the GPL is not DFSG-free?
Technically, yes.  There are the following issues:
(1) Under the laws of many countries, including the U.S., legal text can't
actually be copyrighted.  This means, at least in those countries, the only
unmodifiable part is the preamble.
(2) Even if it *was* DFSG-free, Debian -- and any user redistributing a
GPLed package -- would still be required to distribute it unmodified
because it is the license for many of the packages in Debian.

Accordingly, we feel that this is a genuinely unimportant point.
Probably to be absolutely accurate, it shouldn't actually be part of the
Debian distribution, and should instead accompany the Debian distribution
(which is technically feasible).

I have made an effort to remove similar restrictive statements from new
licenses (the Apache 2.0 License is an example), and I think we would all
like it if the FSF removed this stupid requirement in GPL v.3.

But in this one highly specific case, it seems that modifiability of the
preamble is worth making an exception for, especially since license
proliferation is pretty much always a bad thing.  There probably ought to
be a GR allowing it explicitly.  ;-)

> (2) Aren't slightly-different wordings of the GPL to produce
> slightly-different licenses derivative works of the GPL [they certainly
> are in spirit]

> and thus covered by the GPL?
No, since the GPL isn't GPLed.   They're only legal to make because the
legal text isn't copyrightable in the first place.

Make sure your vote will count.

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