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Subject: Re: Licensing and Copyright Issues

Re: Licensing and Copyright Issues

From: Ray Lambert <codemonkey_at_interthingy.net>
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2007 17:28:13 -0400 (EDT)

DervishD wrote:
> * Ray Lambert <codemonkey_at_interthingy.net> dixit:
>> I would recommend that, upon making this move, we require that all
>> submitters henceforth explicitly license under "GPLv3 or later"
>
> What's wrong with "GPLv3", without the "or later". If you include
> the "or later", you're implicitly accepting any future GPL, no matter
> its terms. Of course, if you don't like some future GPL, then you can
> relicense the code... if you're the copyright holder. Given that there
> are many copyright holders here, taking the risk of a future GPL may be
> a problem.

Well, the point was that if you put "or later" then there's no need to get
permission from a contributor (who may no longer be available) in order to
keep using the code and to re-license it (e.g. for GPLv4).

I guess everyone has their own "trust level" w.r.t. FSF & GPL. I
personally feel comfortable trusting them to "do no harm". And you could
always change your license to "GPLvX only" if a new GPL were to come out
that was objectionable (although that wouldn't help the code you already
released).

> The "or later" is a loose end, IMHO, because you are relicensing
> automagically your code as soon as the FSF publishes a new GPL, whose
> contents you may or may not approve (I can't see the future...).

Like I said, it's a trust issue.

> The GPLv3 *MAY* give problems if some enterprise wants to use
> RockBox as their default firmware and contribute back with money,
> support or whatever. OK, I hate TiVO-ization, too, and to me it's
> plainly immoral, but some enterprise may be bound by patents and the
> they won't use/support RockBox if GPLv3'ed for fear.

This concept of throwing out GPLv3 because of the DRM language has always
bothered me. Folks seem to get stuck in a box thinking about this.

The GPL has a specific reason for existing. It's to protect the hard work
of programmers from those people who would use it to their own advantage,
to the detriment of the very people that toiled over its creation in the
first place. This is essentially what "TiVo-ization" is and it's why so
many folks (yourself included) think it's wrong and even immoral (which I
agree with); it's basically a form of stealing. Why should you (or
anyone) allow any company to "steal" your work in this manner? You
shouldn't. That's what the GPL (and, yes, its DRM and patent clauses)
protect against.

And remember, it's more than just *your* personal work. The GPL is trying
to protect the entire FOSS ecosystem. In order for that to succeed, we
need to all stick together on this. There's an old saying that comes to
mind: you can stand together or fall apart... (and make no mistake about
it, there *are* parties out there that would love to encourage our
"falling apart"; I don't think I need to name names...)

If you do want to work with companies, the GPLv3 and its DRM and patent
clauses *still* work in your favor, because they prevent a company that
you're delaing with from taking advantage of you.

Most importantly (w.r.t. working with companies) if a given company can't
abide by the GPL for whatever reason, there is *always* the possibility of
licensing to that company under a different license (even a commercial
one). So the idea that the GPL might prevent working with a company is
simply false. It only prevents it (maybe) for the *default case*, which
is what the GPL represents.

No, IANAL, but I read Groklaw a lot... ;)

~ray
Received on 2007-09-11


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