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Re: Final text of GPL v3

On Sat, 30 Jun 2007 00:47:59 +0200 Francesco Poli wrote:

> The full final text of the GNU GPL v3 is quoted below for reference.

My comments follow.

The usual disclaimers: IANAL, IANADD.

>   3. Protecting Users' Legal Rights From Anti-Circumvention Law.
>   When you convey a covered work, you waive any legal power to forbid
> circumvention of technological measures to the extent such
> circumvention is effected by exercising rights under this License with
> respect to the covered work,

This clause is troublesome, as it seems to be overreaching.  For
instance, it could be interpreted as covering legal powers to forbid
"computer crimes" such as unauthorized intrusion into computer systems.

E.g.: suppose that the covered work is a vulnerability scanner, or
password cracker, or anyway a tool that could be used (among other
things) to break into other people's computers.  Using that tool in this
manner is exercising a right "under this License" and is a circumvention
of appropriate technological measures set to protect a computer system
or network from unauthorized access.  Gaining unauthorized access to a
protected computer system or network is forbidden by law in several
jurisdictions; do I waive such a legal protection, when I convey the
covered work?

Waiving legal rights can be seen as a fee: this clause could fail
Hence, this is possibly a Freeness issue.

>   5. Conveying Modified Source Versions.
>     d) If the work has interactive user interfaces, each must display
>     Appropriate Legal Notices; however, if the Program has interactive
>     interfaces that do not display Appropriate Legal Notices, your
>     work need not make them do so.

Clause 5d is definitely worse than the corresponding clause 2c in GPLv2.

It's an inconvenience and border-line with respect to Freeness. 
Actually this clause restricts how I can modify what an interactive
program does when run.  It mandates a feature that I *must* implement in
*any* interactive interface of my modified work.  It's very close to
place an unacceptable restriction on modification.  What is more awkward
is that it seems that when a non-interactive work is modified so that it
becomes an interactive work, the modifier is *compelled* to implement
these features in *any* newly created interactive interface.

This clause is very close to fail DFSG#3.
Hence, this is possibly a Freeness issue.

>   7. Additional Terms.
>   Notwithstanding any other provision of this License, for material
> you add to a covered work, you may (if authorized by the copyright
> holders of that material) supplement the terms of this License with
> terms:
>     b) Requiring preservation of specified reasonable legal notices or
>     author attributions in that material or in the Appropriate Legal
>     Notices displayed by works containing it; or

I strongly *dislike* the entire concept of allowing a limited set of
additional requirements to be added.  It's *against* the spirit of the
GPLv2 (where the FSF promised that new versions would "be similar in
spirit to the present version", see GPLv2, section 9.) and greatly
weakens the copyleft.

Especially, clause 7b is a permission to add a possibly non-free
requirement.  Actually: what exactly is a "reasonable legal notice"? 
What exactly is an "author attribution"?  These terms are not defined
anywhere in the license.  I'm concerned that they could be interpreted
in a broad sense and allow people to take a GPLv3'd work and add some
sort of invariant long text that nobody will ever be able to remove or
modify...  This option could make a work include unmodifiable &
unremovable parts and thus fail to fully grant the freedom to modify.

This option could make the work fail DFSG#3, when exercised.
It's not a Freeness issue, per se, but a great loss, since
GPL-compatibility is no longer a DFSG-compliance guarantee...

>   11. Patents.
>   If you convey a covered work, knowingly relying on a patent license,
> and the Corresponding Source of the work is not available for anyone
> to copy, free of charge and under the terms of this License, through a
> publicly available network server or other readily accessible means,
> then you must either (1) cause the Corresponding Source to be so
> available,

I still fail to understand how (1) can be seen as a specific form of
shielding downstream recipients.  If I am a downstream recipient who
does not have a patent license, what protection (against patent
infringement lawsuits) would I get from the existence of a network
server which makes source available to the public?

I'm puzzled.

This clause could be not enough to protect recipients from patent
lawsuits, and thus make the work fail several DFSG, when there are
actively enforced patents infringed by the work.
It's not a Freeness issue, unless and until there are actively enforced
patents infringed by the work.

>   A patent license is "discriminatory" if it does not include within
> the scope of its coverage, prohibits the exercise of, or is
> conditioned on the non-exercise of one or more of the rights that are
> specifically granted under this License.  You may not convey a covered
> work if you are a party to an arrangement with a third party that is
> in the business of distributing software, under which you make payment
> to the third party based on the extent of your activity of conveying
> the work, and under which the third party grants, to any of the
> parties who would receive the covered work from you, a discriminatory
> patent license (a) in connection with copies of the covered work
> conveyed by you (or copies made from those copies), or (b) primarily
> for and in connection with specific products or compilations that
> contain the covered work, unless you entered into that arrangement,
> or that patent license was granted, prior to 28 March 2007.

This date is arbitrary.  It limits the effectiveness of the protection
against "discriminatory" patent licenses.

This clause fails to protect recipients from patent lawsuits, whenever
the related "discriminatory" patent license was granted, or the related
nasty arrangement was in place, prior to 28 March 2007.  In those cases,
the work fails several DFSG, if the patent licensed in a
"discriminatory" manner is actively enforced and infringed by the work.
It's not a Freeness issue, unless and until there are actively enforced
patents infringed by the work and licensed in a "discriminatory" manner
prior to 28 March 2007.

>   13. Use with the GNU Affero General Public License.
>   Notwithstanding any other provision of this License, you have
> permission to link or combine any covered work with a work licensed
> under version 3 of the GNU Affero General Public License into a single
> combined work, and to convey the resulting work.  The terms of this
> License will continue to apply to the part which is the covered work,
> but the special requirements of the GNU Affero General Public License,
> section 13, concerning interaction through a network will apply to the
> combination as such.

This section introduces compatibility with the yet unreleased GNU Affero
General Public License, version 3.  The first draft of the GNU AGPL v3
has already been published and is not promising, as far as
DFSG-compliance is concerned: see my comments

Being compatible with an unreleased (and probably non-free) license
destroys the copyleft mechanism of the GPLv3.  

This section allows linking and combining with works that could fail the
DFSG, unless the GNU AfferoGPL v3 turns out to meet the DFSG (which I
It's not a Freeness issue, per se, but another loss, since
GPL-compatibility is no longer a DFSG-compliance guarantee...

 Need to read a Debian testing installation walk-through?
..................................................... Francesco Poli .
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