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Re: DRAFT: debian-legal summary of the QPL

On Fri, Jul 23, 2004 at 09:10:54PM -0400, Walter Landry wrote:
> Steve Langasek <vorlon@debian.org> wrote:
> > On Thu, Jul 22, 2004 at 04:14:44PM -0400, Walter Landry wrote:
> > > As another example, what if there were a jurisdiction where recipients
> > > automatically receive the right to modify and distribute unless
> > > otherwise explicitly specified.  Then a simple "Copyright (C) 2000
> > > Steve Langasek" would be free.

> > The difference between this and the prior example is that in the
> > first case, the *government* has additional rights over the
> > software, whereas in the second case, it is the *author* who has
> > lesser rights over (control of) the software.  Yes, in this
> > hypothetical jurisdiction, a mere copyright statement would be free;
> > but we are concerned about freedom at the international level, so we
> > need to take a "least common denominator" look at the rights of
> > copyright holders.

> So if the lowest common denominator (i.e. the law in all countries)
> became

>   "If you distribute something under the GPL, you must give the
>   government a copy"

> would the GPL be free?

As a practical consideration, if the requirement extends beyond what
we're already doing for crypto-in-main (e.g., if it requires us to send
the government a copy *every time* someone downloads), I think we would
no longer be able to distribute such software; but I don't think it
would render the GPL non-free, again because this is not a function of
whether the license is granting us the necessary rights.

Actually, let me amend that -- if someone released code under the GPL
with the *intention* that people would have to the government, that
would be non-free; but a change in the laws would not make pre-existing
GPL code non-free.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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