AW: For Approval: German Free Software License

Bernhard Fastenrath bfastenrath at
Thu Nov 25 18:10:44 UTC 2004

Axel Metzger wrote:
> Bernhard Fastenrath wrote:
>>>I do not see why license version 1 should be infected by a (misleadingly!!)
>>>presumed non-compliance of license version 
>>I would like to suggest that this is insufficient as the statute of the
>>license board is subject to change while licensees and licensors using
>>the GFSL have entered a binding agreement that can be modified by the
>>license board.
> You answered only to my last argument. My first and major point is that OSI
> should treat the non-compliance of license version 2 if this case will occur.
> I do not see that this is a problem of version 1. 

But users of license 1 will migrate to license 2 as soon as you publish
it unless you allow OSI a veto in this process and you make this veto a
part of the license itself, not the statute of the license board, which
might change without a veto from OSI.

> I do not see any legal guaranty that FSF will meet any criteria of the
> OSI-Definition when writing the GPL V3. Did this hinder OSI to certify GPL
> V2? No. 

No author is forced to allow the user to migrate to newer versions of
the GPL. As an independent sofware author I have the choice to specify
an exact version of the GPL and make this the license of my software.
Any phrase that allow the user to upgrade to future versions of the
license is an addition that is permitted and makes sense when the author
of the software is the FSF or somebody who trusts the FSF.

>>>This remark touches a difficult point. We (i.e. the lawyers engaged to 
>>>write the license and the Ministry) proofed this question in-depth. 
>>>First of all, it's a contractual issue - therefore the choice of law 
>>>clause in section 10 is applicable. Hence, German law governs the 
>>>question if a third party can change the provisions of a long-term 
>>>contract. Here is a major difference to the GPL/FSF-case. The FSF is 
>>>licensor AND license authority (i.e. the entity entitled to change the 
>>>terms of the license) at the same time.
>>That is only true for software published by the FSF. I wrote several
>>programs myself that have been made available publicly under the GPL.
>> currently hosts 1855 programs that are not published by
>>the FSF but which probably contain a high rate of software that is
>>distributed under the GPL anyway. probably has much more to
>>add to this.
> I agree - but for some important components the FSF has both hats on its
> head. And this is where the legal problems begin. We try to avoid this
> problem by creating a neutral representative authority.

The FSF is the holder of that authority because the people who wrote
the software trust the FSF to wield that authority in the best
interest of free software.

The "neutral representative authority" you want to create wants to 
assume a position like the FSF, because for the individual author
the FSF is just that: A neutral presentative authority to provide
a legal representative that is willing to defend the terms of the

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