[linux-elitists] Re: The GPLV3 Position... (and a suggestion to Jon Corbet)

Jeremy Hankins nowan@nowan.org
Tue Sep 26 05:36:30 PDT 2006

"Dave Crossland" <dave@lab6.com> writes:

> The GPL restricts use in specific ways to protect general freedom of
> use. Therefore the overall effect, in a big way, is to not restrict
> use. v2 is the same as v3 in this regard.

Not true, at least for GPLv2.  And the important thing to note here is
that there's no such thing as an innocuous use restriction.  The problem
with use restrictions is that they involve the licensor trying to
predict how the software can and will be used.  This is also true of
license clauses that try to implement a use-like restriction (e.g., "you
can't remove the ability of the software to transmit a copy of its
source upon user request").

If there's anything free software (or free markets for that matter, if
you swing that way) should have taught us it's that that's a losing
proposition.  Code can and is frequently used in a variety of ways the
original author never would have predicted; use (or use-like)
restrictions will invariably rule some of these options out.  That's one
of the points of all those debian-legal thought experiments that people
love to hate.

I think you're failing to distinguish properly between restrictions on
use and restrictions on distribution or modification.  But I'm not
precisely sure what your thinking on the subject is; if you explain I'll
answer, if you want.

Disclaimer: I'm not speaking specifically about the GPLv3 drafts, as
I've mostly gotten disgusted with the process and stopped following it.
But nothing I've heard has lead me to believe that the problematic
clauses have been fixed.)

Jeremy Hankins <nowan@nowan.org>
PGP fingerprint: 748F 4D16 538E 75D6 8333  9E10 D212 B5ED 37D0 0A03

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