For Approval: GPLv3

Donovan Hawkins hawkins at
Fri Aug 31 05:20:53 UTC 2007

On Thu, 30 Aug 2007, Chris Travers wrote:

>> Since
>> the rights granted by bare GPL v3 is a subset of the rights granted by GPL
>> v3 + your Additional Permissions, you have already released the program
>> under bare GPL v3 as well. GPL v3 section 7 explicitly allows me to select
>> this license when conveying downstream.
> But if that is the case, you have created a new set of permissions for that
> code.  In essence, there is no longer an offer for a specific license
> between *me* and the downstream recipient.   If you are doing this on my
> behalf, this would seem to be sublicensing and the rights would originate
> from you.

The rights originated from you precisely because you are the only one 
capable of giving those rights. That fact is not changed by the method I 
choose to convey downstream. AFAIK this is a matter of pure copyright law, 
so you don't need a reading of the GPL to answer this one.

> Isn't this false advertising though?  I mean, if I grant downstream users
> rights to use the software a certain way, at most someone can hide my
> additional permissions.  Hence this is advertising that the code is subject
> to copyright restrictions which it is not subject to.  They can't enforce
> those changes because they aren't a party to the license.

Obviously "false advertising" applies to something else entirely, but 
let's use that example. I said "this software comes with the rights of a 
bare GPL v3." It ACTUALLY comes with even more rights granted by you. You 
are concerned that I implied that those rights don't exist, but I never 
said that. You just assumed, incorrectly, that I was enumerating all the 
rights. I wasn't and didn't intend to.

If I advertise "No other product can beat ours", people assume our product 
is the best. Of course, it might also be true that no other product is 
worse than other words, that all the products are identical. Not 
false advertising because what I said is entirely true.

You can never assume that a statement is a complete statement unless it 
says it is. There's a section of US Federal tax law that says roughly "The 
term "state" includes the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam". 
The term is then used to define who is required to pay income taxes in the 
US. Tax protestors have argued "Well, I don't live in the District of 
Columbia, Puerto Rico, or Guam, therefore I don't live in a 'state' and 
don't have to pay taxes". They even claim to live in "The Republic of 
California" in correspondances with the IRS. And, not surprisingly, they 
lose in court every single time. The courts know perfectly well that 
"state" ALSO refers to the 50 states of the union, even if those weren't 

> They are just
> advertising restrictions on the code that nobody can enforce.  This seems
> dangerous to me but IANAL.

A license is a grant of rights. Our licenses can't be a restriction 
because they are unilateral. The rights may be conditional but they never 
actually restrict you relative to what you could do without the license.

If I give you the right to sell my book on Tuesday, you can't say that I 
forbade you from selling on other days of the week. You never had the 
right to sell on ANY day of the week, and I selectively granted you the 
right for Tuesday. In no way did I restrict your right to sell on Monday; 
you never had that right and I did nothing to change that fact.

If you elsewhere obtained the right to sell my book on Monday, this second 
permission to sell only on Tuesday would not prevent that. GPL v3 
specifically has a clause saying that it does not restrict rights you get 

So using a subset of the original license does not restrict anyone, it 
does not claim to restrict anyone, and it is not falsely advertising that 
anyone is restricted. It is simply an incomplete statement of rights.

If you are giving away free coffee and donuts, and I tell my friends 
"Hey guys, Chris is giving away free donuts", have I lied? When they go 
over to where you are, does my incomplete statement prevent them from 
getting some coffee too?

Donovan Hawkins, PhD                 "The study of physics will always be
Software Engineer                     safer than biology, for while the
hawkins at                   hazards of physics drop off as 1/r^2,                biological ones grow exponentially."

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