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FSF Compliance Lab Addresses GPLv3 Questions 127

Posted by Zonk
from the yes-you-in-the-back dept.
GeekyBodhi writes "Brett Smith, the licensing compliance engineer at FSF's Free Software Licensing and Compliance Lab held a public question and answer session in an IRC meeting last night. At the meeting Smith addressed questions regarding various sections of GPLv3 (Linux.com shares a corporate overlord with Slashdot) including Section 7 (additional rights), and Section 11 (patents and patent protection), and explained how the incompatibility between GPLv2 and GPLv3 doesn't rule out any interaction between differently licensed programs."
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FSF Compliance Lab Addresses GPLv3 Questions

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  • Unfortunately they didn't answer the big question I have:

    Why do they think all the additional complexity of the GPLv3 is needed? After all, wasn't that one of the biggest complaints about the GPLv2, that it was too complex to understand? And now you have all this extra language and extra penalties and extra permissions that, in my estimation, don't give you a better license. It doesn't prevent Tivo-ization (and I don't think you really can without even worse side effects), it doesn't prevent Microsoft/Novel
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by webmaster404 (1148909)
      Exactly, it seems like the GPLV3 was made in effort to stop Tivo and MS and Novell. That is it, add in a few things about patents and that is the GPLV3, it seems to be a "temporary" licence, one that only is any good in 2007-2008 when it will need rewritten again. While the GPL2 was a solid licence meant to defend code freedom rather then stop a few companies from exploiting flaws in the previous GPL.
      • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Friday October 26, 2007 @12:23PM (#21130137) Homepage
        As new threats to freedom are identified, we should try to defend against them. Switching to a new licence is a hassle, but would you rather ignore the problem?

        The GPL's goal is to make sure the software is free for all its users (not just free for some of them depending on whether the vendor deigned to give them the needed hardware keys or patent licences). That simple goal has not changed. If the licence text has become more complex, that is because the threats it needs to overcome have become more complex.

        As long as you licence your code under 'GPLv3 or later', there won't be a big problem when the next attack on freedom comes and GPLv4 becomes necessary.
        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          The big problem is that we don't all agree that these things are threats.

          If I release GPL'ed code and I own a patent on my algrothm, I expect to be able to enforce it. As the legal system stands now copyright on software is next to useless when it comes court time, and patents are the only viable option to protect certain kinds of assets.

          From a business standpoint, it makes the GPL less adoptable.

          Note: We currently have an idea that we are considering patenting and implementing in GPL, with the express in
          • by glwtta (532858)
            We currently have an idea that we are considering patenting and implementing in GPL, with the express intention being that people that don't want to agree to the GPL cannot use our idea without paying us a reasonable commercial fee.

            Isn't this perfectly fine under the GPL?

            As I understand it, GPLv3 tries (for better or worse) to prevent discriminatory patent license deals, I don't think it changes the way that regular patent licenses are dealt with.
          • For example, the inclusion of such clauses by the Apache Software License does not seem to make businesses less eager to donate code there....

            However, the general argument still stands. In particular, there are sections in the GPL v3 which seem to me to be lawyerbombs or litigation magnets in that they appear to any reasonable reading to make license compatibility an open question, In particular, go read section 7, paragraph 2 of the GPL v3 and ask yourself if it can be applied to BSD-licensed software wh
            • I would argue that the MIT license is incompatible for the same reason. Namely because one cannot take BSD or MIT-licensed copyrights and change the terms on them later because the author grants these rights to all downstream users. The only answers that I have been able to get from Mr Moglen seem to be that it doesn't matter because you could get such a suit dismissed for reasons of standing, but that ought to make people nervous.

              ...Did he say what those reasons would be? Does a suit maybe have to wait until someone actually *does* remove the permissions like they've been told they can, or something?

              • by einhverfr (238914)
                THe logic appears to be that if someone removes the "additional permissions" afforded by the BSDL, until they have their own valid copyrights in the work they don't have standing to sue for copyright infringement.

                IANAL, but the problem I see here is that licenses are interpreted by the courts as contracts. This leaves open a large number of questions on contract theory which I would rather not ask a court.

                Heck, I would rather keep my software under the GPL v2 when required libraries move (and hence that li
        • Howso? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by einhverfr (238914) <chris.travers@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday October 26, 2007 @02:13PM (#21131943) Homepage Journal
          If you distribute GPL v2 software and then sue for patent infrignement while you still are distributing the software, you are violating the authors' copyrights.

          Furthermore, under the GPL v3 I can do a lot of things I couldn't under the GPL v2:
          1) Release beta versions of software under NDA's provided that the contract also stipulates that they are receiving the software solely for the purpose of providing QA services for me by testing their own software against mine.

          2) Use hypervisors and aggregated updates (for components in other VM's) to prevent updated software from doing anything (the software isn't interfered with in any way, but everything that it needs to talk to is missing if you provide your own update!)

          3) Use hypervisors and other VMs to create DRM which can't be circumvented by accessing the source code of the kernel (because the decryption/hardware interfaces occur in another VM).

          Seems like a lot of work to go to for not a lot more freedom of the end user.....
          • If you distribute GPL v2 software and then sue for patent infrignement while you still are distributing the software, you are violating the authors' copyrights.
            Care to substantiate this? I'm under the impression that the GPL v2 allows this.
            • by einhverfr (238914)
              The relevant portion of the GPL v2 is:

              If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent
              infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues),
              conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or
              otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not
              excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot
              distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this
              License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you
              may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent
              license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by
              all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then
              the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to
              refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.
              [emphasis mine]

              Basically, if you can't allow royalty-free redistribution of the Program, then you can't distribute it, and any such activity is copyright infringement.

          • by sumdumass (711423)
            You don't have to go through the trouble of using VMs and Hypervisors to get the same effect. Just make sure that something important like Drive access or video display and network access isn't touching the GPLed software and it is your own or licenses propriatary drivers and you can do exactly what Tivo is doing today while using GPLv3 software. You could even use GPLv3 licenses software in connections to the GPLv3 covered works.

            Contrary to popular opinion, the anti Tivo clauses aren't as strong as people
      • by that logic, Windows with no security updates installed is better than windows with the security updates installed. i dont think you've thought it through. sure it's more complex, but it has to be to account for the holes it used to have.
      • by Kjella (173770)
        At the same time, "flaws in the GPL" isn't as trivial as you make it sound. When a for-profit company chooses to contribute code under the GPL, they'll very carefully inspect what they're licensing and what it may be used for. If they were reviewing a proprietary license, they'd probably add another page of legal mumbo-jumbo to cover any flaws they might find, but the GPL is very much a "take it or leave it" license, a license that is almost but slightly more restricted than the GPL wouldn't make any sense.
      • by a.d.trick (894813)

        The GPL 3 was fleshed out well before the MS and Novell agreement. Nice troll.

        Also, if your in a house, and the roof has a leak, you're better of patching it than fretting that it might spring another leak. It's not like the GPL is fundamentally broken. Even version 2 is a pretty good license, it just has a few loopholes.

    • by kebes (861706)

      Why do they think all the additional complexity of the GPLv3 is needed?

      I'm not sure you can blame the complexity on the GPLv3 per se. The GPL is a legal document, and any legal document I've ever read has been extremely detailed and complex. The nature of the law (as it is currently practiced) requires that level of detail. In fact, many of the changes from v2 to v3 where a matter of cleaning up language and changing things so that they are robust with regard to modern legal interpretations.

      And now you hav

      • by augustz (18082)
        Kebes,

        Are you a lawyer? I've contracted significant amounts of work out to actual lawyers, and this idea that documents have to detailed and complex to be legal is obviously bogus in my experience. Can you point to some specific examples of your theory?

        I'd suggest reading one of the many very interesting studies of legal documents that have been done. Things like plain language redrafting etc.

        • by kebes (861706)

          Are you a lawyer?

          As I said in my previous post, I am certainly not a lawyer, so I may be way off-base here.

          Actually, I wasn't so much trying to say that legalese has to be impenetrable and incomprehensible, but that it is generally carefully-written and detailed (such that is must be read equally carefully). I was pointing out that the GPLv3 (in my estimation) is no more "complex" than any other legal document I've had occasion to read (tenant agreements, loan agreements, software license agreements, etc.). In fact, the

    • Yep.

      One of the things that really made GPLv2 approachable was it's directness and simplicity. I think it also gave it it's strength.

      GPLv3 is one of those lawyer sounding licenses. They try to specify everything (ie, instead of saying all colors, they'll write all colors including red, orange, green, blue and any other generally considered colors not named).

      But reading it over, I'm not sure it buys much, and it certainly makes it much harder to understand. And that's a real shame.

      And the Tivoization issue is
      • Whether or not Tivoization matters depends on the principals you start with.

        One set says that you may do whatever you wish with the code, bu you must also share the code in return.

        The other set, and the set that has *always* been Stallman's goal, says that you may do whatever you wish, as long as you do not interfere with another's ability to do whatever they wish.

        For developer's who want to do the first, the GPL is pretty airtight (slight patent issues, though nobody has instituted a destructive exploit al
        • by gclef (96311)
          Except that GPL V3 has so many holes, I'm not sure it even accomplishes it's stated goals.

          Off the top of my head:

          1) Tivoisation is totally okay in certain arenas...like products not intended for use in the home. Example: Cisco just moved the ASA firewall to Linux in version ASA version 8...since ASA's are not devices intended for use in the home, Cisco can include, and Tivo-ise, as much GPLv3 software as they like.

          2) Patent deals a la Novell/MS are totally fine in the GPLv3, as long as the group you're mak
          • by jythie (914043)
            The Anti-Tivolization clause, yes, has some pretty significant holes. It reaks of 'who can we piss off and who can we not'. It really feels like RMS went after the more vulnerable companies (that have high profile toys that average supports would want) while steering clear of companies that hold some sway.

            Companies like Tivo are pretty nitch, few and far between.... RMS can risk alienating them. But could you imagine a clause like 'you must supply the back-end code to anyone who connects to your website'
            • by sumdumass (711423)
              My understanding was that they attempted to do that. If you hosted GPLed software that ran on your server, it was considered the same as distributing it in the first draft. Some could say they still have this intention with the wording convey.

              But even the Anti Tivo clauses won't stop Tivo from doing what it is doing. They might have to change a few things but you can still see locked down tivos with GPLv3 licenses code in it.
              • by jythie (914043)
                *nods* and if they had pushed that intention, GPL code would be pretty much absent from many, many websites and companies and much of the FUD one hears would actually be true.

                And yep, this will not stop Tivo (since the kernel is still v2), at least not for now. Though sooner or later _something_ critical that an embedded developer might with to sign will go v3 and that will be a problem.

                They have already pretty much ruled out GPLv3 on electronic voting machines (with the FSF justifying it with a flippant '
                • by einhverfr (238914)
                  Not really.

                  There is no reason that Tivo can't change methods so that they can comply with the letter of the GPL v3. Now, Linux may be GPL v2, but something else could become GPL v3. As long as they provide sufficient instructions to get the software installed and without being actively interfered with, there is no reason why the box once updated has to have the same capabilities. All the stuff interfacing with the hardware could be gone, leaving you with a nice paperweight which is, in fact, executing th
        • The GPL v3 basically says that for certain classes of devices, one must:
          1) Provide installation instructions
          2) Not interfere with the execution of a modified binary.

          However, it still allows for aggregation in distribution, and so there is no reason why one can't require that a full aggregate of software (the full system image including hypervisor and all vm's) gets installed at once and that this collective or aggregate work must be signed as a whole. It thus allows unrestricted execution of a binary in a
      • by fsmunoz (267297)

        One of the things that really made GPLv2 approachable was it's directness and simplicity. I think it also gave it it's strength.

        Well, compared to GPLv3 maybe... the GPLv2 was also constantly called complex and filled with "legalese" (Google gives some apropos examples [google.pt]). This doesn't detract from your other points, but the GPL was always "complex" compared to non-copyleft licences.

      • by eldepeche (854916)
        Tivo does distribute the software. The issue is that they include in their device some chip that checks if the Tivo software has been modified; if it has been modified, the device won't work. This prevents the user from using and modifying the software, rights that he/she should have under the GPL. Version 3 of the GPL prevents this.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Xtifr (1323)

        One of the things that really made GPLv2 approachable was it's directness and simplicity.

        Wow, you've got a funny notion of "directness and simplicity".

        ~ $ wc /usr/share/common-licenses/BSD
        26 225 1499 /usr/share/common-licenses/BSD
        ~ $ wc /usr/share/common-licenses/GPL
        339 2968 17987 /usr/share/common-licenses/GPL-2

        I've been listening to people complain about the length and complexity of the GPL for years! Frankly, I think once you've gone beyond the point where the average person can easily grasp it (which the GPLv2 was clearly beyond, IMO), there's little point in not going

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      what really do third-party developers gain from licensing their software GPLv3 over v2? Nothing but a bunch of headache, in my opinion.

      Quite the opposite... if you refuse to use the GPLv3 and decide to use the GPLv2 instead, you'll upset the Apostles of Free Software, bringing upon you the joys of:
      A 1068 post thread [marc.info] berating you get you to dual license the code
      A 68 post thread [marc.info] indicating a wish to subvert your license with a new license that you didn't choose for the ease of people who chose a license that is deliberately not compatible with yours
      etc. Somewhere in there, Alexandre Oliva (board member of the FSFLA) indicated that he co

      • as far as i understood it, the main problem with the gpl2 is that its language is sometimes ambiguous in some countries. seeing as the fsf operates globally, this made the gpl2 into a real problem. the ambiguity had to be tidied up, hence the gpl3

        it is unfortunately necessary in the current legal situation for the fsf to own the software you write. for example, the fsf has enough resources to offer some level of protection against legal problems due to patents. do you?
    • I won't deny that GPLv3 is more complex than GPLv2. That's because we live in a more complex world now, where people interact with software in lots of ways besides sitting down in front of a box that runs their code, and some developers want to have all the advantages of freedom with none of the obligations. You can use simple language if all the participants have shared understanding. Unfortunately, not everybody groks freedom yet.

      I'm not sure why you say that the additional provisions of GPLv3 don't

    • by cromar (1103585)
      While it doesn't prevent Microsoft/Novell deals, it will make them much less likely, because there won't be any way to use the weight of patents to force one. So, is it perfect? No, nothing is. I say it's a damn improvement on something damn good anyway. What's the deal, man?
    • The FSF addresses the ability to remove additional permissions and distribute under a more restrictive license. The GPL v3 is written as if this can be done for any piece of a covered work and does *not* suggest that the license reverts when that piece is later extracted. This has lead me to conclude that the GPL v3 is incompatible with permissive licenses such as the BSDL because:

      1) The BSDL addresses *all* downstream recipients of covered copyrights and
      2) The BSDL itself is an invariant license which
      • by domatic (1128127)
        Where it gets interesting if substantial GPLed changes are made to a fork of a BSD codebase. Technically, the BSD bits are still BSD and while one can diff them back out the original BSD code is still available. Practically speaking such a work would have to be treated as GPL. If the BSD license is as you say then proprietary forks aren't legal either. If proprietary forks are okay but involuted arguments mean GPL forks aren't then I have to wonder just "True Freedom" is.

        Suppose I did things this way:

        BS
        • by einhverfr (238914)
          I am not saying that GPL v2 or proprietary folks aren't legal.

          The GPLv2 explicitly states that the license only applies when distributing the work as a whole, so if you distribute the BSDL portion separately, it is distributed under its original license. The GPL v3 is the one which ahs the problem.

          Basically when MS and others use BSD code, they don't change the license on those specific copyright elements. Instead they add their own copyrighted elements and license those. The problem is that the GPL v3 i
          • by domatic (1128127)
            Okay. This makes the rest of your posts seem much more reasonable to me. I think your analysis of the GPLv3 may well be plausible but I'm reserving my opinion of the license until I see what happens with it practically and legally over the course of a year or two. Legalese isn't code after all. The GPLv3 may not even mean what Stallman thinks it means if it ever winds up in court.

            I agree with you that my proposed method isn't legally necessary for GPLv2 stuff but it may be practically necessary if the m
            • by einhverfr (238914)
              I don't think it is ever necessary.

              TO satisfy the likes of Theo, why not put a header like:

              NOTICE: This file is currently being modified by [authors] and any copyrights they may hold to the file are licensed under the GPL v3.

              And then changing this when any substantive changes are made to a full copyright notice. Even THeo would have hard time complaining in a case like this.
              • by domatic (1128127)
                I don't think Theo ever has a hard time complaining :-). That whole pissing match a month or two back was really sad. I had a high opinion of Theo then and I respect and still respect his no compromises approach to wireless and I appreciate and use OpenSSH every day. But he really did a good job of convincing me and a lot of other people I guess that he is a completely unreasonable headcase. If you stare too long into the abyss, it will stare back at you. I think a certain part of the BSD crowd has hate
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gbutler69 (910166)
      Much (maybe most) of the additional complexity is required for the GPL to be more legally sound in a world-wide market as opposed to just the U.S. Much of the GPLv2 language was legally sound for the U.S., but, somewhat less legally sound in other legal jurisdictions. The GPLv3 attempts to address this by using language that is recognized throughout the world to have very specific legal meanings.
    • I refuse to touch any GPLv3 code, that isn't at the minimum dual licensed with something else, even the GPLv3. It's simply too complex of a license for me to understand. If I have to touch some at work, I let my boss make the decision. But outside of work I'm not touching it with a ten foot pole. I'll use (load an execute a binary) the software if I have to, but that's the extent of it.

      The GPLv3 is like a friend who has a huge Rottweiler guard dog. He tells me to visit him any time, but until he leashes and
  • I hope my company sends a few members of its legal team to find out more. We use Linux a lot, and many key Linux system pieces (such as GCC [gnu.org]) are moving to GPL v3. An email broadcast went out at work, telling us specifically:

    Please do not bring software into [company] under the GNU Public License version 3.0 (GPL v. 3.0) without review by the [company] attorney who supports your business unit.

    GPL v. 3.0 has been finalized by the Free Software Foundation. It contains some provisions that are at odds with

    • Indeed your company's lawyers _do_ need to go to some training somewhere. They have obviously been listening to some FUD somewhere. There is _no_ language in GPL3 that even pretends to address use without distribution, beyond the whole "yep, use it however you want", so there can be no "Ambiguous language that could grant patent rights to other companies, even if [company] only uses the software internally."

      Among other things, all the patent grants require your company to have granted patent license right
      • by Mr Z (6791)

        I honestly believe our lawyers are being cautious until they can draft very specific procedures for our engineers to follow. The message itself came from managers, not lawyers, and was sent to engineers.

        I actually work on our company's patent committee, and in my interactions with our lawyers, I've found them to be a competent and cautious bunch. The punchline of the email was basically "If it says GPL v3, don't do anything just yet without asking one of our lawyers." That does seem prudent.

        I just hope

        • by einhverfr (238914)
          Actually, on further research, I think your lawyers are right.

          If someone downloads a copy of the GCC and puts it on a file share, so everyone on the team can use it, that is conveying under the GPL v3, and would seem to imply a grant of patent license.

          ("If, pursuant to or in connection with a single transaction or arrangement, you convey, or propagate by procuring conveyance of, a covered work, and grant a patent license to some of the parties receiving the covered work authorizing them to use, propagate, m
          • by Mr Z (6791)

            Well, as an employee of the company, I am able to use my company's patents, within the scope of my employment. If I terminate my employment, though, does that patent grant persist once I leave the company? The company is no longer "conveying" the application to me.

            How about outside contractors? We have contractors from many other companies working within our company, using our tools and our network and our file shares. They're permitted to work with our IP in ways outlined in our contracts and NDAs. W

            • if you stop conveying the software, can you retract your patent license to those whom you conveyed the software too?
              • by sumdumass (711423)
                No. It is like stopping distributing something that has wording claiming anyone can do so. It is perpetual in this regard whether you do it or not after you initially have done so.

                However, a point worth noting it that you have to include whatever is in the software that touches the patent in question. I cannot put it in there and trick you out of it. The GPLv3 actually is worded as something along the lines of the original author gives you certain rights they goes on to say that you as an author cannot use
                • by einhverfr (238914)
                  The original question was whether internal use within a company was always safe as regards the patent grant. IANAL but I think that is not the case and ceases to be the case where internal distribution occurs. I.e. if everyone downloads the GCC from the GNU web site, that is safe. If one person downloads it and puts it on a file share that is not.

                  The following paragraph defines "Convey" in the GPL v3:

                  To "convey" a work means any kind of propagation that enables other parties to make or receive copies. Mere interaction with a user through a computer network, with no transfer of a copy, is not conveying.

                  1) Is the former conveyance? Yes, but GNU is doing the conveying.
                  2) Is the latter conveyance? Depend

      • by einhverfr (238914)
        The GP's lawyers are doing what they are paid to do-- prevent the company from going near anything which could even possibly be used to argue things at odds with the company.

        The key question is this:

        If I download the GCC and put it on a file share, and someone else at the same company installs it from my file share, is that distribution? Does that trigger the patent license grants?

        IANAL, but if I read the language closely, the answers would seem to be "yes" and "yes" when one disregards the intent of the l
  • Let me get this straight...

    In order to attempt to quell the fears of developers and businesses, FSF decided to hold a Q&S in....IRC?

    Kind of shows how out of touch with reality the FSF is. The majority of decision-makers don't even know what IRC is....much less the people with the investment capital.
  • I'm curious to see if there were any answers about how section 7 interacts with BSD or other licensed dependencies, or how "you can distribute this freely, except that you can't distribute it loaded on to a certain class of device" doesn't infringe freedom to redistribute, or why the patent stuff is so very specific in what kind of deals it affects.

    I'm also curious about how "the source is out there, but patented and unusable" is an OK result for the patent issue (as per the article), but "the source is ou

    • by fsmunoz (267297)
      As for section 7 I suppose they will say something along these lines, assuming that the problem is with the "people can remove the additional stuff, like BSD licence requisites": GPL Rationale [fsf.org]

      Section 7 first explicitly allows added parts covered by terms with additional permissions to be combined with GPL'd code. This codifies our existing practice of regarding such licensing terms as compatible with the GPL. A downstream user of a combined GPL'd work who modifies such an added part may remove the additional permissions, in which case the broader permissions no longer apply to the modified version, and only the terms of the GPL apply to it.
      (...)
      In its treatment of terms that impose additional requirements, section 7 extends the range of licensing terms with which the GPL is compatible. An added part carrying additional requirements may be combined with GPL'd code, but only if those requirements belong to an set enumerated in section 7. We must, of course, place some limit on the kinds of additional requirements that we will accept, to ensure that enhanced license compatibility does not defeat the broader freedoms advanced by the GPL. Unlike terms that grant additional permissions, terms that impose additional requirements cannot be removed by a downstream user of the combined GPL'd work, because no such user would have the right to do so.
      (...)
      Section 7 requires a downstream user of a covered work to preserve the non-GPL terms covering the added parts just as they must preserve the GPL, as long as any substantial portion of those parts is present in the user's version.
      (...)

      And also here [fsf.org]

      A GPL licensee may place an additional requirement on code for which the licensee has or can give appropriate copyright permission, but only if that requirement falls within the list given in subsection 7b. Placement of any other kind of additional requirement continues to be a violation of the license. Additional requirements that are in the 7b list may not be removed, but if a user receives GPL'd code that purports to include an additional requirement not in the 7b list, the user may remove that requirement. Here we were particularly concerned to address the problem of program authors who purport to license their works in a misleading and possibly self-contradictory fashion, using the GPL together with unacceptable added restrictions that would make those works non-free software.this article

      So, the FSF view on it boils down to: requirements listed in 7b - that include the requirements of MIT/BSD/ISC-type licences - can't be removed by the end user. Anything more than that can be removed and is not even guaranteed to be compatible in the first place (two scenarios here: one can remove a "

      • It states that you can remove additional permissions when you *convey* the software. Conveyance doesn't add copyrights but it requries copyright permission.

        The problem is that many of us believe that this is not allowed by permissive licenses in general-- that the permissive license always follows those specific copyrights which are licensed under it and that this is passed on to downstream users. This isn't an issue with the GPL v2 because when you create a derivative work, you add your own copyrights wh
        • by fsmunoz (267297)

          The problem is that many of us believe that this is not allowed

          Again, we have had this discussion many time before. It reached the point were I can't say much more than that there is a difference between the way you read it and the way I - and the authors of the GPL - read it. Nothing wrong with that, but there is little more I can add when all the clarifications from the authors of the GPLv3 go to lenghts to say that section 7 is there to make the GPLv3 *more* compatible with non-copyleft licences.

          This isn't an issue with the GPL v2 because when you create a derivative work,

          But others have said the exact *opposite*: that the GPlv2 *is not* co

          • by einhverfr (238914)

            So, you must think that if I take, say, MIT Kerberos and change nothing but the license, that this is permissible under the terms of the MITL? So far I have not heard anyone make that argument seriously outside the FSF and Mr Moglen (in fact the SFLC specifically advises against it).

            The only thing that would make you example "unreasonable" is the fact that it directly tries to undermine an entire section of the licence: even if the effects of not using that would be the same, I don't see that as "reasonable" since you could also say "without regard to the entire GPL you can make what you wish with the code in those functions, the code that uses those functions and any code that shared disk space with the files of those functions".

            Isn't that exactly what the MIT License does when it says that "Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any who receive..." The implied bit is that is without regard to any other licenses or sublicenses (hence in eff

            • by fsmunoz (267297)

              So, you must think that if I take, say, MIT Kerberos and change nothing but the license, that this is permissible under the terms of the MITL? So far I have not heard anyone make that argument seriously outside the FSF and Mr Moglen (in fact the SFLC specifically advises against it).

              This relates to the GPLv3 and section 7 how? This is another discussion, the one about taking non-copyleft code and stripping the licence away since it's "allowed". I don't think that it's allowed - but I'm open to different views- but this doesn't relate to the GPLv3 since the same doubt occurs with the GPLv2.

              Isn't that exactly what the MIT License does when it says that "Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any who receive..." The implied bit is that is without regard to any other licenses or sublicenses (hence in effect MIT License allows sublicensing as a form of legal relationship provided that the sublicense provides terms identical to the MITL itself).

              No, not exactly, I said that what *could* be unreasonable is the direct targeting of the licence under which exception you are adding the adittional restrictions under the "reasonable legal notices

              • by einhverfr (238914)

                This relates to the GPLv3 and section 7 how? This is another discussion, the one about taking non-copyleft code and stripping the licence away since it's "allowed". I don't think that it's allowed - but I'm open to different views- but this doesn't relate to the GPLv3 since the same doubt occurs with the GPLv2.

                Ok, assuming that Kerberos is not classified as a Major Component, then if I release a GPL v3 application which I distribute in binary form (as well as with the Corresponding Source) then I can only do it if and only if the Kerberos that I distribute with it (in this case MIT Kerberos) can have its license *changed* to the GPL v3 since it is now a portion of the Corresponding Source.

                No, not exactly, I said that what *could* be unreasonable is the direct targeting of the licence under which exception you are adding the adittional restrictions under the "reasonable legal notices" umbrella. It wouldn't, as I said, make much difference in pratical terms since the exception is there to allow the MIT licence to be aggregated, as an extra file or with other licences, with the GPlv3 code and make it remain so since nobody can remove it.

                Would not any legal notice which includes a permission grant such as ".... are permitted providing...." or "Permission is he

                • by fsmunoz (267297)

                  Ok, assuming that Kerberos is not classified as a Major Component, then if I release a GPL v3 application which I distribute in binary form (as well as with the Corresponding Source) then I can only do it if and only if the Kerberos that I distribute with it (in this case MIT Kerberos) can have its license *changed* to the GPL v3 since it is now a portion of the Corresponding Source.

                  Uh? I'm not following your reasoning, not how does it apply to the GPLv3 in particular. You relase a GPLv3 application, if you use MIT Kerberos code you add the MITL licence and appropriate copyright notices and then, well, then nothing, that's it. No offense, but it's almost like you would actually prefer for the GPLv3 to be incompatible with ISC/BSDL/MITL by the way you read it.

                  Would not any legal notice which includes a permission grant such as ".... are permitted providing...." or "Permission is hereby granted" add a restriction on the excersize of Section 7, paragraph 2? For example, until the functions are actually modified sufficiently to qualify as something other than nonliteral copies for the purpose of copyright law, I fail to see how these are actually different.

                  You are taking the "permission is hereby granted" as it means something important to justify making it into an "additional perm

                  • by einhverfr (238914)
                    Ok, in my example, the Corresponding Source must be released under the GPL v3, correct?

                    The MIT Kerberos implemntation is part of the Corresponding Source, correct?

                    By including it in the Corresponding Source, the license must be GPL-compatible, correct? This means that it must be possible to convert the MIT License into the GPL with allowed additional restrictions (such as 7b legal notices) only. Even if the library code remains unchanged, correct?

                    The MIT License addresses *all* downstream recipients, corr
                    • by fsmunoz (267297)
                      I'm going home now and try to understand exactly what you mean - my fault, not yours. What "additional permissions" are you refering though? The MITL is not an additional permission but a non-permissive additional term. You can't remove those while there is code that falls under it, so I'm not quite following you (again, probably my fault).
                    • by einhverfr (238914)
                      The MIT license provides *all* downstream recipients of the copyrighted elements in question the permission to use according to that license without further restriction. Those permissions don't magically go away because someone decides to incorporate those elements into a work under a more restrictive license, but they are limited to those elements (including but not limited to literal code portions, non-literal elements in selection and ordering of compiled works, graphic design, and storylines in games)
                    • by fsmunoz (267297)

                      The MIT license provides *all* downstream recipients of the copyrighted elements in question the permission to use according to that license without further restriction. Those permissions don't magically go away because someone decides to incorporate those elements into a work under a more restrictive license, but they are limited to those elements (including but not limited to literal code portions, non-literal elements in selection and ordering of compiled works, graphic design, and storylines in games) which are released under that license. This is why it starts off with "Permission is hereby granted, free of charge...."

                      Why would you think that a 7b legal notice which starts off with "permission is hereby granted" would not qualify as a permissive additional term?

                      Again, is this a permissive additional term to you (made up by me):

                      Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, for any use, provided that the following conditions are met:
                      - Maintenance of the present permission notice.
                      - Refusal to show any change to anyone.
                      - Abstention from publicly or privately debate about this code.
                      - The code and any changes can't be incorporated in any derivate work.

                      It also starts with "Permission is hereby granted", so it must be an additional permission, no? More to the point, you said:

                      The MIT license provides *all* downstream recipients of the copyrighted elements in question the permission to use according to that license without further restriction.

                      No, the MIT licence provides downstream recepients the permission to use ("use" in terms of programming, of course) with the restriction that:

                      (...)The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.(...)

                      As I said in the other post, without this additional restriction MIT code would not differ from PD code and could be use by anyone udner any licence in any way.

                      he argument that the MIT license allows for arbitrary sublicensing (and hence effectively changing the license)) ...

                      That's a diffe

                    • by einhverfr (238914)

                      Again, is this a permissive additional term to you (made up by me):

                      In the context of a GPL v3 work, I would ask whether it was included by you in the GPL v3 work. If not, then there is a license conflict. If so, then that is in addition to the rights provided by the GPLv3 (i.e. you can follow the GPL v3 *or* you can follow those terms).

                      In either case it would be prudent to remove the questionable code.

                      No, the MIT licence provides downstream recepients the permission to use ("use" in terms of programming, of course) with the restriction that...

                      So, what gives you the right to provide additional conditions as a matter of licensing? Or does the GPL become a contract at that point (so if I get your software and di

                    • by fsmunoz (267297)

                      In the context of a GPL v3 work, I would ask whether it was included by you in the GPL v3 work. If not, then there is a license conflict. If so, then that is in addition to the rights provided by the GPLv3 (i.e. you can follow the GPL v3 *or* you can follow those terms).

                      Section 10 prohibits any further restriction of that kind ("You may not impose any further restrictions on the exercise of the rights granted or affirmed under this License) and any further restrictions to those explicitly stated in section 7 fall within that ("All other non-permissive additional terms are considered "further restrictions" within the meaning of section 10. If the Program as you received it, or any part of it, contains a notice stating that it is governed by this License along with a term t

                    • by einhverfr (238914)
                      Ok. here is more information.

                      If you (as the copyright owner) included the copyrights in a GPLv3-licensed work, I would argue that you provided the work under the GPL v3 *in addition to* any other licenses. Hence that would be an additional software license which could allow for certain uses not otherwise allowed in the GPL but would not carry the restrictions when you were just following the GPL.

                      I.e. you can follow the GPL v3 *or* you can follow your other license. The restrictions of your license don't a
              • So, you must think that if I take, say, MIT Kerberos and change nothing but the license, that this is permissible under the terms of the MITL? So far I have not heard anyone make that argument seriously outside the FSF and Mr Moglen (in fact the SFLC specifically advises against it).

                This relates to the GPLv3 and section 7 how? This is another discussion, the one about taking non-copyleft code and stripping the licence away since it's "allowed". I don't think that it's allowed - but I'm open to different views- but this doesn't relate to the GPLv3 since the same doubt occurs with the GPLv2.

                It relates to section 7 because it says "When you convey a copy of a covered work, you may at your option remove any additional permissions from that copy, or from any part of it. [...] Additional terms, permissive or non-permissive, may be stated in the form of a separately written license, or stated as exceptions; the above requirements apply either way.". So you have a dpendency of your GPLv3 work, which is under a separately written license (BSDL). Section 6 says that when distributing compiled version

                • by fsmunoz (267297)

                  It relates to section 7 because it says "When you convey a copy of a covered work, you may at your option remove any additional permissions from that copy, or from any part of it. [...] Additional terms, permissive or non-permissive, may be stated in the form of a separately written license, or stated as exceptions; the above requirements apply either way.". So you have a dpendency of your GPLv3 work, which is under a separately written license (BSDL). Section 6 says that when distributing compiled versions of your work you have to provide this dependency under GPLv3, which makes it a "covered work" for the quote from section 7 above. So that means that you can remove the BSDL from that dependency when you distribute it, because it grants additional permissions... except that the BSDL doesn't permit this.

                  It doesn't say that. Again, there is a difference between "additional permissions" and "additional restrictions". It's all quite clear in the quotes and links I replied to you earlier, as is the usage of separete terms in the licence itself. BSDL and MITL are not additional permissions, they can't be removed, they are additional requirements of the BSDL and MITL that are allowed to be conveyed and, again, can't be removed.

                  • by einhverfr (238914)
                    So, what part of Section 7 confuses you:

                    Paragraph 2:

                    When you convey a copy of a covered work, you may at your option remove any additional permissions from that copy, or from any part of it. (Additional permissions may be written to require their own removal in certain cases when you modify the work.) You may place additional permissions on material, added by you to a covered work, for which you have or can give appropriate copyright permission.

                    Final paragraph:

                    Additional terms, permissive or non-permissive, may be stated in the form of a separately written license, or stated as exceptions; the above requirements apply either way.

                    Does this make my position clearer now?

                    • by fsmunoz (267297)

                      So, what part of Section 7 confuses you:

                      Removing context doesn't help, but I've already agreed with you in that the wording of it is prone to confusion (which is way removing context makes things harder). Bear in mind this:

                      Notwithstanding any other provision of this License, for material you add to a covered work, you may (if authorized by the copyright holders of that material) supplement the terms of this License with terms:

                      - Requiring preservation of specified reasonable legal notices or author attributions in that material or in the Ap

                    • The license text notice of the MIT License, the BSD License, and the ISC License all provide language offering a grant of certain copyrights. Excersize of section 7(2) restricts those rights which are granted by removing those permissions beyond the scope of the GPL v3.

                      Note that dependencies can only be used if they are compatible with the GPL v3 by allowing such relicensing provided that binary distribution is done (because when this happens, the dependencies' source must be part of the Corresponding Sour
                    • Actually I do understand; I just disagree with your interpretation.

                      The license text notice of the MIT License, the BSD License, and the ISC License all provide language offering a grant of certain copyrights. Excersize of section 7(2) restricts those rights which are granted by removing those permissions beyond the scope of the GPL v3.

                      No it doesn't. Lets take the ISC licence:

                      Copyright (c) 4-digit year, Company or Person's Name

                      Permission to use, copy, modify, and/or distribute this software for any purpose with or without fee is hereby granted, provided that the above copyright notice and this permission notice appear in all copies.

                      THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS" [etc, etc, etc)

                      The last part falls within 7-3a) ("...Disclaiming warranty or limiting liability differently from the terms of sections 15 and 16 of this License...), I don't think you disagree with that. The (c) part is goes without saying. All that is left is:

                      Permission to use, copy, modify, and/or distribute this software for any purpose with or without fee is hereby granted, provided that the above copyright notice and this permission notice appear in all copies

                      The licence stipulates that the copyright notice and the permission notice must appear in all copues. This falls under 7-3b( (...requiring preservation of

                    • by einhverfr (238914)
                      So, suppose the only change I make is to the license, where I add a note that this is distributed as part of a larger work under the GPL v3, and that the additional permissions have been removed. Is that legal? Legally binding via copyright, contract (when the GPL v3 comes into force), etc?
                    • by fsmunoz (267297)

                      So, suppose the only change I make is to the license, where I add a note that this is distributed as part of a larger work under the GPL v3, and that the additional permissions have been removed. Is that legal? Legally binding via copyright, contract (when the GPL v3 comes into force), etc?

                      I hope you haven't mistaken me for someone who knows copyright law... I'm assuming that we are both layman in these matters, only armed with general experience and our particular understanding of the licence. Having said that, please clarify you scenario: you are using MIT code in a GPLv3 project, and the change you make is to the MIT licence? You can't change the licence to make it say something diferent, period. No licence on earth can say "you may change the licence of any work you do not own". If the w

                    • by einhverfr (238914)
                      Yes, we are both laymen.

                      By chaning the license, I mean adding a new license header at the top which states that the governing license of the work is the GPL v3, but leaving the notice as required by the MITL intact.

                      Something like:

                      Distributed as part of package Foo (Copyright 2007 Chris Travers). The governing license of this file is now the GPL v3. See attached GPL3.txt for details.
                    • by fsmunoz (267297)

                      , but leaving the notice as required by the MITL intact.

                      Distributed as part of package Foo (Copyright 2007 Chris Travers). The governing license of this file is now the GPL v3. See attached GPL3.txt for details.

                      Ummm... You can't do that, unless you are the copyright owner of the code. The GPLv3 applies to code alone, and your example constitues changing the licence. The MIT licence requires not only the copyright notice but also "...and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.". You can't change the terms of the MIT licence to include it in the GPLv3 any more than you can remove the GPLv3 and put "This code is now under the MIT licence". One thing are lic

                    • That is my point. This is exactly my concern over license compatibility.
  • "licensing compliance engineer"
    Wow. I don't seem to recall that being an option when I was an undergrad looking to choose a particular discipline.
    • if he is a licensed practitioner of law and this is a cosmetic change of name or if I am as competent to speak on these matters as he is.
    • by Shados (741919)
      people working to study and evaluate compliance to any kind of rules, regulation, laws, or what have you have existed for like ever, in all fields you can ever imagine... this isn't really anything new. (Heck, the company I work for has as their main product a tool used to analyse and generate report on just that...not with licensing, but still).

      Same job with a different set of constraints, nothing new really.
  • People who do advocate the GPL in whatever form are likely going to continue to do so. People who don't, won't.

    I used to engage in schizoid ranting about this topic, and admittedly still do, from time to time...but the thing that I've at least tried to realise is that when you're dealing with a cult of the same type as say Amway or the Church of Scientology, (which IMHO the FSF and its' followers are) if you don't agree with their belief system, you can make any kind of appeal you like, and it isn't going
    • by einhverfr (238914)
      Interestinglt I advocate the GPL in a particular version (2). I also think the GPL v3 is... well... not something I can politely say.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by einhverfr (238914)
      Cetainly St iGNUcious himself is all about faith and does not seem to care about logic or facts. The FSF is not just limited to such people however. I know a number of people who do advocate the GPL for reasons which are sometimes right and sometimes wrong.

      My own opinion is that RMS has. like President Bush, come to see the world in terms of universal conflict where Freedom must be sacrificed in order to be preserved. Hence the GFDL has clauses which are designed to allow the FSF and others to *force* th
    • by domatic (1128127)
      You seem to make the mistake of assuming that all users of the GPL buy into FSF cant lock, stock, and barrel. Torvalds certainly doesn't as do many other pragmatic users of the GPL. From the way some BSD proponents have been acting lately and Theo's bunch of Merry Men certainly qualify, insults like "Scientologist-like cultist" just as fairly apply to them as well. Like the FSFers you impugn: "if you don't agree with their belief system, you can make any kind of appeal you like, and it isn't going to mak
      • that there are legitimate business reasons for choosing the GPL (at least for version 2).

        THe basic issue is that, while both the GPL and BSD licenses can effectively erode comercial competition, the latter requires a larger and more viable community to make it work. Hence while PostgreSQL has been able to kill every closed source verion that wanted to compete directly with it, releasing a previously proprietary add-in might be a harder sell if you are smaller than, say, EnterpriseDB... The GPL thus protec
        • by laffer1 (701823)
          Similarly, there are business advantages to the BSD license. Businesses can use the code in their applications without giving back modifications. They can choose to do so if it benefits them or they feel "good" about it. Your advantages were based on companies that want to open source the code to get free development done on their product. With the BSD license, they can use the code in a product, but most likely it won't be their exact product. There is an obvious business advantage to not giving away
          • by einhverfr (238914)
            I didn't say there weren't.

            One of the *big* business advantages of the BSDL for large-scale open source projects is that it prevents the sort of single-vendor control you seen in projects like Asterisk or MySQL.

            In fact, depsite recognizing legitimate business reasons for choosing the GPL, I think that my business is such that the BSD license would actually be more appropriate for most of our work.

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