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Re: Software Licenced Under a Specific Version of GPL

Sorry for replying to this, I am not a DD, technically just a user.
I am not a lawyer either, so sorry for discussing licensing topics.
This e-mail is about freedom, not law.

On Fri, Aug 31, 2001 at 05:43:27PM +0200, Santiago Vila wrote:
> "packages under `GPL or later' should refer to the latest GPL version
> which is always at [current location], packages under a specific version
> of GPL should refer to the exact license under /usr/share/common-licenses
> if it still exists, or include the complete text of the GPL version under
> which they are distributed if it does no longer exists"
> [ Perhaps the same could be said for the LGPL licenses ].

I believe this would be an unfair restriction on the users.

Here is the argument

Suppose package X is licensed under "GPL version 1 or later".

As long as this text remains on the package, each recipient has
the freedom to use it *at his/hers option* under GPL 1, 2 or 3
(or later).

Suppose by an act of packaging Debian licenses the packaged (and
usually slightly modified) X.deb as "GPL version 2 or later".
The packager has unnecessarily taken away the freedom of the
user to use the resulting .deb file under GPL version 1, if he
so chooses.  The maintainer *can* do this, because as copyright
holder on his changes he can license the changes any way he
wants, and because his redistribution rights under "1, 2, 3 or
later" include the right to modify and redistribute under "2, 3
or later".

Suppose the maintainer of base-files, or the project as an
organization automatically changes the file or symlink
GPL2-or-later to GPL3-or-later.  Then the project is effectively
doing this for ALL packages at the same time.  For packages
distributed through master.debian.org this could be seen as a
decision to exercise Debian's redistribution rights only under
GPL3 or later, but it still seems to be an unnecessary
restriction on the freedom on the users.

So as a user I would prefer that the project does NOT roll
forward the minimum version number in licenses specifying "GPL
version X or later" to "GPL version X+1 or later".  On the same
note, I would prefer if maintainers who add a few lines of
packaging to a "BSD no advertisement" program not restrict the
package by placing their 100 lines under GPL.  But again this is
just my preference of freedom.

Keep up the good work, I just love this system


This message is hastily written, please ignore any unpleasant wordings,
do not consider it a binding commitment, even if its phrasing may
indicate so. Its contents may be deliberately or accidentally untrue.
Trademarks and other things belong to their owners, if any.

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