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Re: Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

Les Mikesell <lesmikesell gmail com> wrote:
> Alexandre Oliva wrote:
> >> Yes, I agree that the initial author of a work has as much right to
> >> impose the harmful GPL as any other copyright holder has to choose a
> >> more or less restrictive license.  I'm not so sure about additional
> >> contributors of original work who have this choice taken away in the
> >> GPL case only, though.
> > Again, you're confused as to what the GPL does.  It doesn't take any
> > such choice away.  It's copyright law that does.

> But copyright law applies blindly and equally.  Applying the GPL is a
> deliberate and harmful choice.

Doesn't parse.


> >> Having the choice to contribute under the GPL or not at all
> >> resembles that "your money or your life" scenario you presented
> >> earlier.

> > Why do you dislike the idea of respecting others' freedoms just like
> > yours were respected?

> It is neither respect nor freedom to take away all the choices except
> the one you happen to like.

It is not "taking away", it is /allowing/ you to do certain things you
aren't automatically entitled to do. If it doesn't include everything you'd
like, tough luck. If anything is "taking away" here, it is copyright law.

> >>>> if competitors were allowed to use components from Linux in
> >>>> commercial offerings

> >>> They are.

> >> Not in the general case.

> > They are.  As long as they respect others' freedoms, abiding by the
> > terms of the license, they can charge as much money as they like for
> > distributing, supporting, or offering any other service related with
> > the software, and run a successful commercial business.  Why do you
> > think this is not the case?

> I think it's not the case because they can't include other works under
> different licenses or patents as is necessary for a general purpose
> OS.

Thanks for the hint! *Now* I'm seeing clearly that I have been deluded all
these years, thinking I was running a general purpose OS on assorted
machines here! How could I have been /so/ blind for /so/ long is quite
beyond me...

>     As for charging money, the GPL prohibits any additional
> restrictions on redistribution so your first customer can give copies
> away or undercut your prices (although Red Hat seems to ignore this
> part and attach contract restrictions to what they distribute anyway).

Has always been thusly, and several companies built successful business
around it anyway...

> >> It would be unfeasible if not technically impossible to ship a Linux
> >> based OS containing licensed copies of all the components needed to
> >> match the functionality of commercial OS versions.

Please define "functionality of commercial OS versions". In any case, MacOS
(with its BSD core) does come awfully near if you mean closed source

And I do have a Linux based OS containing fully licensed copies of all the
components needed to match (and in many areas, widely surpass) the
functionality I require from a "commercial OS version". It's called "Fedora".

> > I'm sorry, I can't make sense of what you're trying to say here.  It
> > appears that you're saying 'licensed copies' to refer to only
> > proprietary software, and 'commercial OS' as proprietary operating
> > system, but I wouldn't like to assume that's what you mean, because it
> > still renders the meaning of your full claim nonsensical.  Can you
> > please try to rephrase what you wanted to say using different terms?

> There are patented components that people need

Such as?

>                                                and components where
> the best implementation is under someone else's copyright.

So what? The best implementation of a C compiler is under the FSF
copyright, and I have a few others lying aound here who belong to other
people, my preferred kernel is under the copyright of a bunch of weirdos
who hack around for fun (and often even get paid to do it!), some awesome
games are under the copyright of still other parties, ...

>                                                             A Linux
> distribution can never include those things as part of the kernel even
> if the end user is willing to pay any required license fee.  The only
> scenario where this would be possible is if someone would buy
> unlimited rights for unrestricted distribution along with source.  But
> there is no business model to fund such a process.

Why do you insist that the kernel must use restricted stuff? Please note
that the kernel does include patented algorithms (RCU for one) for which it
does have your "impossible" unrestricted rights for unlimited distribution
(under GPL).

> >> Everyone involved may be perfectly happy to meet whatever those
> >> other restrictions might be, yet the GPL's harmful restrictions
> >> prevents the useful combination from being distributed.

> > You're mistaken.  It's copyright law that prevents it, and it's not
> > because of restrictions from the GPL, it's because of the other
> > restrictions "everyone may be perfectly happy to meet".  Evidently not
> > everyone, since you're so unhappy about them that you're even trying
> > to shift the blame onto a license that doesn't prohibit you from doing
> > anything.

> I've explained that the GPL prevents me from sharing original work
> that links to both GPL and non-GPL libraries.  Please stop say it
> doesn't prohibit me from doing that.

Copyright law (and the restrictions placed on the "other parts" by their
owners) restrict creating and distributing a GPLed whole, not GPL.

You are saying that e.g. GPL prevents you from sharing a chimera made out
of Windows pieces + Linux pieces. It is the /Microsoft/ license which
prohibits you creating such a thing in the first place, and if it did, it
would prohibit sharing at least the Windows part of it freely; that said
monstrosity can't be shared "because of GPL" is quite off the point then.


> OK, a real example from the past:  the wattcp library provided a
> TCP/IP interface for DOS programs with a 'redistributable but not
> modifiable' license and an aspi library provided scsi device access, I
> think with a 'must keep attribution' type license.  Both were free of
> charge and available in source.  I took the gnutar program (at the
> time not understanding that it had usurped the pdtar original or the
> implications thereof), prototyped it to compile under 16-bit DOS and
> made it use some magic device names to access the archive either on
> scsi tape or remotely over the network via rsh to another machine.
> DOS provided no way to separate these processes so all the code was
> necessarily linked into one 'work as a whole'.  I thought this was a
> generally useful tool and tried to give it away, but could not because
> of the GPL restrictions prohibiting combinations with other licenses.
> And please don't try to say the problem was cause by those other
> licenses - they did not prevent anyone else from getting copies, nor
> would it have been a problem if I had started with pdtar.  It was
> strictly a harmful effect of the GPL restrictions that had been
> applied to the pdtar base.  I won't argue that this was illegal but it
> was certainly harmful and thus immoral to do.

Great. You can't satisfy all three licenses, and it is solely the fault of


> I dispute it, and would go so far as to say most free software has
> copied much of its design from commercial/proprietary work (generally
> a good thing!), and quite a lot was actually originally developed to
> be proprietary work and later had the free license applied.  Far from
> being harmful, I'd say that without the proprietary works, free
> software would barely exist and would have much less chance of future
> development. There are all sorts of variations on this theme like the
> X consortium producing free software funded by proprietary vendors.

Nonsense. Much of what the Internet is all about has always been "free
software" (even its standards, the RFCs, do count in that direction). The
propietary packages used over Internet mostly came later (or never).
Dr. Horst H. von Brand                   User #22616 counter.li.org
Departamento de Informatica                    Fono: +56 32 2654431
Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria             +56 32 2654239
Casilla 110-V, Valparaiso, Chile 2340000       Fax:  +56 32 2797513

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