[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [Gnu-arch-users] Re: GPLv2 or GPLv2+

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: [Gnu-arch-users] Re: GPLv2 or GPLv2+
Date: Sun, 18 Nov 2007 16:18:13 +0900

Thomas Lord writes:

 > Stephen J. Turnbull wrote:
 > > Eg, the GPL says: "keep intact the notices that refer to this
 > > license".  Now, most FSF-derived programs have a notice like
 > >
 > >     XEmacs is free software.
 > >     You may copy, modify, and redistribute it under the GPLv2.
 > >     You can get a copy of the GPLv2 from the FSF in Cambridge MA.
 > >
 > > If I remove the "XEmacs is free software" portion, have I mutilated
 > > the notice?  How about updating the FSF's address?  How does the
 > > preamble help me to answer those questions?
 > >
 > >   
 > Are you asking for legal advice?

No, just more precise BS.  That is the level of discussion here. :-)

 > But here is how I see the logic of the applicable law:

 > The preamble helps a lot.   You might have to change
 > the literal form of the notice for any number of reasons
 > (e.g., simply to re-format the file).   Some of these changes
 > are permitted, others are obviously not.   The judgement
 > call is: which is which?

 > The phrase "is free software" is a term of art that constitutes
 > prominent notice of what kind of public license to expect to find.
 > It's clear intent is to make it as obvious as possible to users
 > that they have the very freedoms the license describes in the
 > pre-amble.  You would have a difficult time arguing that that part
 > could be removed or changed too much.

No, all I have to do is say "this sentence doesn't mention the GPL, and
is clearly superseded by the content of the GPL."  The fact that it's
useful information has nothing to do with mentioning the GPL.  Nor
does the preamble have anything to do with this that I can see.

Now, it's *possible* that the term "notice" is a term of art, that
would by legal custom include "nearby" text (eg, the whole
paragraph).  But again, that is not an argument that is strengthened
by the presence of the preamble.

 > You would have an easier time arguing that it could be changed to
 > similarly familiar term: "The XEmacs license protects software
 > freedoms," or something.

How about the fact that my project changes "Emacs" -> "XEmacs" every
time we sync?  But again, the rest of the GPL, without the preamble,
clearly implies that that kind of change is acceptable.  On the other
hand, discussion of "free software" is no help, because some free
software has explicitly prohibited similar changes (old BSD
advertising clause; GFDL cover texts).

 > As to the FSF address:  What is its function in the notice?
 > Of what, is the user being notified?  Is the notice there to
 > inform the user of the one-time street address of the FSF?
 > Or is it there to give users enough information that they
 > can, taking advantage of assistance offered by the Free Software
 > Foundation, obtain a copy of the license?    The preamble
 > makes it clear that its the second kind of notice and, for
 > that reason, you're clearly permitted to (accurately) update the
 > address.

So does the wording of the permission notice: "you can get a copy from
the FSF at ...".  Pretty clearly updating the "..." is implicitly
*expected*,  not merely permitted.

So yes, you could figure those things out from the preamble, but it
don't take a rocket scientist to do it without, and I don't see that
the preamble helps at all in these cases; it's *less* precise than
the GPL Terms and Conditions.

I just don't think the "philosophical bullshit" helps establish the
kind of intent relevant here.  That is, "what did they mean by this
word which is not a term of art?"  Mostly it confuses the issue, if

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]