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Subject: Re: Licensing and Copyright Issues

Re: Licensing and Copyright Issues

From: Daniel Stenberg <>
Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2007 10:15:19 +0200 (CEST)

On Sat, 15 Sep 2007, Dave Chapman wrote:

>> So, what is "the Program" ? In my view we point out a file that explicitly
>> says v2, but this clearly is not how everyone sees this. Lots of people now
>> consider this phrasing in chapter 9 to be the text that basically implies
>> "v2 or later".
> IMO, the license text (i.e. the COPYING file) does not form part of the
> program (which is the only argument I've heard against para. 9 being
> applicable) - it's the license that accompanies the program.


> I'm curious to know what other people think about this issue - as this seems
> to me to be the first thing we have to agree on.

After I mailed that, I've pretty much ended up thinking like you. The license
text itself most probably can't be seen as an actual part of "the Program" and
thus there's nothing that explicitly says v2 and then the "or later" clause is
implied as chapter 9 describes.

However, and I think this is a however we can't escape, I consider this one of
those big mistakes we should've fixed ages ago since atm we probably have lots
of people who think they contributed to GPLv2 project while a bunch others
think "GPLv2 or later". There's just no way we can get out of that situation
with big smiles on everybody's faces.

And to comment on Tapio Kelloniemi's mail while I'm at it:

> FSF may be able to give us legal counsel. IMHO a developer should contact
> them and ask for this.


> I think that this doesn't have much to do with individual developer's
> opinions.

I disagree on both accounts. First, the FSF has an agenda that is very strong
pro-GPLv3 so asking them will of course give us an answer that is going to
lead to GPLv3 (meaning they will tell it is "or later"). Finding a more
neutral counsel would be much better. Not that I know of any such that won't
charge us a lot of money. FSF are the producers of the license, but they are
not always the best interpreters of it for others IMHO.

Second, while it may not be the _developer_'s opinons that count, it certainly
is individual opinions since this is but a text that it is up to lawyers and
interpreters to interpret and act as they think the text tells them to. That's
how all laws and contracts work until there are enough court cases to really
tell us how the right way to interpret those are. An FSF counsel is but an
individual opinion as well (even though quite likely a pretty informed one)...

  Daniel Stenberg -- --
Received on 2007-09-15

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