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Re: Final text of GPL v3

On Sun, Jul 01, 2007 at 10:27:52AM +0100, Gervase Markham wrote:
> It certainly addresses the problem. Let's look at the two possibilities:

> Before:
>   GPL (either explicitly or implicitly): you can do X
>   Restriction: you can't do X

> Result - conflict and confusion; non-redistributable code

> After:
>   GPL (either explicitly or implicitly): you can do X
>   GPL: If I say you can't do X, you can ignore me
>   Restriction: you can't do X

> Result - the license is consistent, although it has one part which 
> nullifies another part. This is similar to clauses of the form "The 
> previous part of this clause does not apply if you are wearing blue 
> underwear".

> If you (in your example) license under GPLv3 + restriction, then by 
> picking GPLv3 you are giving me, the recipient of the code, permission 
> to remove the restriction. If you didn't want to give me that 
> permission, you shouldn't have used GPLv3 - just as if you didn't want 
> to give me permission to link my code with the Affero GPL (to take one 
> example of many), you shouldn't have used GPLv3.

Um, no.  "You shouldn't have used GPLv3" doesn't have any legal force to
resolve the inconsistency.  If I license my work under the GPLv3, I *as the
copyright holder* can still modify the terms of my code's license however I
damn well want, regardless of what the GPLv3 itself says about whether that
is permissible, because the GPLv3 is not binding on *me the copyright

If I go to the effort of writing

    This program is Free Software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
    it under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 3 as
    published by the Free Software Foundation, with the exception that the
    prohibition in section 7 of the license on additional restrictions does
    not apply and the permission in section 13 is not granted.

then I have *explicitly addressed* the clause in GPLv3 which purports to
prohibit additional restrictions.  Which statement is going to take
precedence?  At best I've created a lawyer bomb because my intentions are
not clear; at worst I've succeeded in licensing my code in a manner that's
incompatible with the GPLv3.  But that's exactly the same problem that we
had with GPLv2, so what was the point of adding this clause?

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
vorlon@debian.org                                   http://www.debian.org/

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