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Re: Draft Summary: MPL is not DFSG free

Nathanael Nerode <neroden@twcny.rr.com> wrote:
> > What do you mean?  In order to gain the licenses GPL grants you, you
> > must comply with all of the terms.  Some of those terms require that you
> > perform in some way, e.g. by distributing source code.
> Actually, as far as I can tell, they don't.  They grant permission to do
> specific things which you otherwise have no permission to do (such as
> distributing source code).  Interestingly, every restriction in the GPL I
> could find is merely a restriction on what activities it permits you to do;
> they do not restrict your outside activities.  If you accept the license,
> the things you are then permitted to do are a *strict superset* of the
> things you were permitted to do before.

Sort of, but please consider it more closely.

First, the GPL states explicitly that you must "accept" the terms or
that you do not get permission to do anything with the code.  Should we
argue with a statement that the text says itself?

Second, while acceptance alone does not obligate anything of you, some
obligations do kick in if you try to use some of the rights you have
been granted.  For example, if you take the option to distribute
binaries of modifications and then post the source code separately, then
you are *obliged* from then onwards to keep the source code available to
whoever has received the binary distribution.  This is a restriction on
your behavior, and that restriction has arisen because you agreed to the
terms of the GPL.  You have gained the right to distribute binary-only
copies, but in compensation you have agreed to post the source code

IANAL, but calling this anything but a contract seems to really confuse
matters.  Let's try and focus on what the real issue is, which is not
some technical legal distinction.  Further, the general principle has
not been established to my satisfaction that a reasonably free license
must have absolutely no strings attached.  If it's only minor
requirements, along the same annoyance level as advertising clauses,
then surely the license agreement is still okay.


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