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

From: Thomas Lord
Subject: Re: [Gnu-arch-users] Re: GPLv2 or GPLv2+
Date: Sat, 17 Nov 2007 10:00:04 -0800
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20060808)

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?   I don't have any.  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.   You would have an easier time
arguing that it could be changed to similarly familiar term:
"The XEmacs license protects software freedoms," or

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


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