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Date:      Mon, 15 May 2000 18:21:59 -0700
From:      "David Schwartz" <davids@webmaster.com>
To:        "Rahul Siddharthan" <rsidd@physics.iisc.ernet.in>
Cc:        "Anatoly Vorobey" <mellon@pobox.com>, <chat@FreeBSD.ORG>
Subject:   RE: RE: Why are people against GNU? WAS Re: 5.0 already?
Message-ID:  <000001bfbed5$21a44b30$021d85d1@youwant.to>
In-Reply-To: <20000516063850.A18527@physics.iisc.ernet.in>

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> OK suppose you're right (which is very unlikely).  What then?  The GPL
> still only talks of using later versions at your *option*.  You can
> still use GPL 2 if you want.

	The point is that if you cover a work under the GPL, and then others modify
and extend that work, the only entity that has any control over the
licensing terms is the FSF. Not even the original owner can modify the
licensing terms.

	This has, historically, created some amusing incidents. Take for example
the Linux operating system. It was developed under the GPL from day one. It
contains contributions from large numbers of people, all contributed under
the GPL. Theoretically, nobody but the FSF should be able to change the
licensing agreement. Not even the original author (Linus Torvalds) is
supposed to be allowed to do that.

	But he did. He declared unilaterally the programs that just Linux kernel
calls are not covered by the GPL. Now what is this declaration? Is it Linus'
legal opinion?

	Isn't this in direct conflict with what RMS recently said on this list?
Linux is not covered by the LGPL, and all programs that run on Linux 'link'
to the Linux kernel as surely as any library use.

	Now somehow in this case, Linus seems to have gotten away with it. But I
have no idea how he has the right to change the licensing terms on other
people's software. As I read the GPL, only the FSF has that right.

	How do you address this? Does Linus have the right to relax the GPL on all
the contributed works in the Linux kernel? Or will RMS go on record as
saying that running on an OS is different from linking to a library? (How
so? Technically, they are precisely analogous.)

	Bluntly, Linus should not have applied the GPL to his work. He should have
applied a license that had the terms he wanted to apply, and this would have
allowed him to fix erroneous terms later. But he ceded that power to the
FSF. Now, if someone really wanted to make a stink, I'm not sure what he
could do but throw out all code contributed to the kernel inbetween when it
was first released and when he clarified the license.

	DS



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