For Approval: GPLv3
chris at metatrontech.com
Tue Aug 28 02:09:01 UTC 2007
Donovan Hawkins wrote:
> On Mon, 27 Aug 2007, Alexander Terekhov wrote:
>> How fascinating. But to begin with your problem is that GPLv3 itself
>> talks about "license from the *original licensors*" (section 10) and
>> even elaborates that "[s]ublicensing is not allowed".
> The terms of the GPL apply to people who receive software under the
> GPL, not to people who release software under the GPL. I am bound only
> by the BSDL on the original program.
FWIW, I am in the process of scheduling attourney time to try to make
sense of the legalities of the GPL3. The more I look at this the less
sense it makes. IANAL.
The closes thing I can get to a simple and straight answer is that the
"BSDL only requires a notice of the license, not the license itself, and
therefore sublicensing is OK." The problem with this interpretation s
that when you start getting into what it actually means, you run into
problems which seem to contradict the GPL3. Thus I am left with a bad
feeling that the license does not do what it was intended to do.
Now for the details:
In the US, and many other countries, we have an originality standard for
copyright. This means that original expression may be copyrighted, but
that functional elements (ideas, facts) may not. Furthermore in
derivative or collected works, any copyrights for the work as a whole
only extend to the original expressive elements added by the new
author. Thus, if I include an excerpt of a translation of poetry in a
book on Norse mythology, I need the translator's permission to do this,
but if I am granted that, I do not gain copyright ownership over that
excerpt as included (I ran into this, couldn't get permission, and did
my own translation as a result).
I don't think anyone will argue that the same applies to software. If I
include BSDL code into my program, I do so under the permission fromthe
BSD License. I do not acquire any copyrights to the code I include by
doing so. At the same time, if I copy GPL code into a BSDL application
I can do this, but only under the permission of the GPL author. Hence,
although I haven't lost copyrights to my own elements, the work as a
whole becomes encumbered in both cases under the other license (though
the affect is minimal in the first case since the GPL gives a superset
of BSD rights, but in the second case, the effect is more dramatic).
Original elements may include code fragments which implement algorithms,
but could include other areas beyond the code such as screen output, or
for games, things like story lines and the like.
Now in either case, the work as a whole needs to be licensed under the
GPL. We can all agree on this. However, the basic matter is that I can
only enforce my own copyrights-- I cannot enforce copyright infringement
on elements that are not original to me or have had copyright
transferred appropriately. Hence even if I "only leave the notice of
the license and relicense under the GPL" the original elements of the
code which have not been substantively altered do not become, as a
practical matter, encumbered by the GPL simply because I do not have
rights to enforce it.
For this reason, I have *no* idea what it means to, in the process of
conveying, remove additional permissions (section 7, second paragraph).
Such a removal of permissions would either be meaningless (I try never
to read a contract or license that way if I can help it, and if this
*is* the correct reading, one runs into truth-in-advertising issues), it
could be beyond the scope of the copyright license (in which case it
might be compatible with the MS-PL), or it could be in conflict with
every license out there by mandating controls over copyright permissions
that nobody else has the right to mandate.
I want to explain one other thing-- people have brought up the issue of
proprietary software including BSD code again and again. The approach
above would suggest that the BSD code is used with permission and is
therefore not subject to the copyrights (prior to substantive
alteration) of the proprietary vendor. However, the work as a whole
becomes encumbered with the license on that portion, so the license must
be followed. In short, Sun never "relicensed" the BSD code. They just
encumbered it in works under closed source licenses.
"Relicensing" vs "encumbering" amount to the same thing in practice as
files diverge because it becomes impossible to safely separate original
elements from those encumbered by others' copyrights without access to
the original BSDL work anyway. This distinction while usually only
technical becomes relevant with regard to the GPL3 because of the
ability to remove additional permissions from any portion of the work or
corresponding source without the need to show that any copyright
protected elements were added.
In short, I haven't yet been able to link the details of copyright law
that everyone seems to agree with to the actual implementation of the GPL3.
PS. In addition to writing software, I have had to deal with these
larger issues in technical documentation and also non-IT books covering
poetry where the source was in the public domain but the translation was
not. I expect that in translation, there are going to be cases also
where language and form require or at least closely suggest a single
correct translation. One would think that these areas would not be
subject to copyright independantly just because two people translated
three lines out of a hundred the same.
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Size: 171 bytes
Desc: not available
More information about the License-discuss