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Re: GPL "or any greater version"

Raul Miller <moth@debian.org> writes:

>> > How are you releasing gcc with those statements intact and yet invalid?
> On Fri, Aug 27, 2004 at 10:46:20AM -0400, Brian Thomas Sniffen wrote:
>> You always have the legal obligation to maintain accurate copyright
>> notices.  For example, if I made changes to gcc, I might distribute
>> the results as follows:
>> "This program is copyright 2004 Brian Sniffen.  It is available to you
>> under the terms of the GNU GPL, version 2.  Some portions are
>> Copyright 1970-2004 Free Software Foundation, and are available to you
>> under the terms of the GNU GPL, version 2, or at your option any later
>> version.  See the ChangeLog for which parts are Sniffen's and which
>> parts are FSF's, or contact me at <bts@example.com>."
> What happens to the notices which claim:
>     This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
>     it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
>     the Free Software Foundation; either version 2, or (at your option)
>     any later version.
> ?

Those apply to the parts the FSF wrote, certainly.  For example, I
would frame that sentence with "Some parts are Copyright 1902-1954
FSF.  About those parts, the FSF says:"

> For that matter, what happens after a few hundred revisions where 12
> people have asserted something like: yeah that's true but it's not really
> true for the part I own, contact me for the details.
> ?

The same thing that happens whenever a bunch of compatibly-licensed
programs are combined: a really big copyright file.

>> Yes, they only need to keep the copyright notice accurate.
> The GPL requires that copyright notices be kept intact.
> If you think that "kept intact" includes "being modified so they no longer
> say the same thing", I'd like to see some reason for agreeing with you.

You're right that it's probably better not to change the text, but
simply to set context appropriately.  The term "This program," for
example, has a very specific referrant -- it was written by the
copyright holder for the initial version, not the modifications.

>> > Which leaves me wondering: does "keep the copyright notice intact" mean
>> > that everyone is required to update notices in an ever more complicated
>> > fashion as code is updated, or does it just mean not changing them
>> > except in some trivial fashion [such as including them on new media,
>> > as everyone who distributed using new media is required to do that]?
>> > [My bet would be on the latter.]
>> The former.  Go read the law, or read the GPL where it talks about
>> dated notices of any change.  That requirement is there for a reason.
> Which law, specifically?

No time for that at work, but I'll look for a cite over the weekend.

> And I can think of plenty of reasons to require dated notices -- none
> of which are justifications for changing the terms under which works
> based on the program can be distributed.
>> > So... let's not have me making stuff up that seems to fit what you've
>> > said.  Instead, let's see an actual gcc patch that doesn't restrict what
>> > users can do beyond the restrictions contained in the terms of GPL v2
>> > but still keeps them from using versions of the GPL later than v2.
>> Is the example I posted above not satisfactory?
> No.  For example, you've not addressed the issue of keeping the copyright
> notices intact.

OK, how about one which keeps them unedited, but frames them appropriately?

>> >> When distributing a modified work, the recipient receives a license
>> >> from the author of the original, unmodified program.  The distributor
>> >> cannot impose any restrictions on that license.
>> >
>> > And if you could just modify the GPL to get rid of section 2, this
>> > might be an important distinction.
>> Hunh?  GPL 2 doesn't interact in the way you seem to think with GPL
>> 6.  Each puts requirements on the license notices I must give to
>> recipients; one puts requirements regarding the license on the
>> modified work ("this License"), and the other puts requirements
>> regarding the license notice of the original work ("no restrictions,"
>> GPL 6).
> Section 2 states 
>    ...when you distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is
>    a work based on the Program, the distribution of the whole must be
>    on the terms of this License, whose permissions for other licensees
>    extend to the entire whole, and thus to each and every part regardless
>    of who wrote it.
> it also states
>    You may modify your copy or copies of the Program or any portion of
>    it, thus forming a work based on the Program, and copy and distribute
>    such modifications or work under the terms of Section 1 above
> And section 1 states
>    You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Program's source
>    code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously
>    and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice
>    and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the notices that refer to
>    this License and to the absence of any warranty; and give any other
>    recipients of the Program a copy of this License along with the Program

Indeed, it repeatedly says things about it being under "this License,"
which is GPL v2 and not any other license.

> More generally, you need to distribute the modified program under all the
> terms of the license, which includes all the stuff about the original
> copyright notices.  You're distributing the original under terms that
> require that the original license notices apply to the original, so you
> have to distribute the modified version under terms that require you
> the original license notices apply to the modified version.
> If you fail to do this, you're not distributing the modified version
> under the same terms you received it.
> -- 
> Raul

Brian Sniffen                                       bts@alum.mit.edu

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