For Approval: GPLv3

Chris Travers chris at
Fri Aug 31 18:47:24 UTC 2007

Matthew Flaschen wrote:
> Chris Travers wrote:
>> The idea that a distributor could have some sort of editorial control
> over the rights
>> granted in a contract that he/she is not a party to raises all manner of
>> red flags.
> Why?  If the copyright holder allows the distributor this "editorial
> control" (I think this is a poor choice of words), what's the problem?
> I'm looking for something a little more precise than "all manner of red
> flags".
>   I personally would hope that the removal of additional
>> permissions would be interpreted as to require the direction of any
>> copyright holder over any portion of the affected code.
> As you know, that's contrary to the express wording.

Yes, unfortunately, the express wording seems to my mind to be at odds 
with any normal contractual relationship....
>> As for the complaint that "anyone could make a trivial change to remove
>> the permission," the question becomes whether that change is worthy of
>> copyright protection itself.
> It is possible to make a relatively quick change that provides copyright
> protection.

Sure, and that creates a new contractual relationship governed by the 
GPL3.  This would be acceptable to my mind.
>> In short one would not have the serious questions as to whether this
> is so far outside what is normally
>> considered to be a valid contract as to bring the whole license into
>> question.
> By serious questions, you seem to mean vague misgivings.

Ok, I have asked two questions:
1)  Who are the parties to the contract?
2)  What rights does the contract grant?

I have gotten "filter theories" from some on this list who suggest that 
the rights are granted through a filter of a third party and thus the 
third party is in control of the rights grant even if he/she is not a 
party to the contract.  This seems to my mind very suspect.

This "filter theory" constitutes a serious question.  My serious 
question is this:  Does removing permissions invalidate the contract 
because the consideration offered and accepted are different?

>> Therefore my current position is that this license sucks so badly that
> even
>> if dependencies move, I do not intend to upgrade the licenses on any software projects I am involved in.
> You're entitled to your choice.  But I have to ask that you keep it to
> yourself, or provide some real evidence that there's a problem, not just
>  "all manner of red flags", "serious questions", and "pretty sketchy".

Part of the problem is that the hypothetical examples I have given have 
resulted in very different outcomes.

I give a copy of Chris's Super Text Editor exclusively to Joe as GPL3 
plus, say, the right to make derivative works under any license.  Note 
that sublicensing is prohibited.

Joe, who makes his own text editor, doesn't like my additional 
permission and removes it prior to distributing.  Joe makes no other 
changes to the program.

We all agree that the recipient of Chris's Super Text Editor is my 
licensee, not Joe's.  Right?

However, there seem to be strong differences in interpretation as to 
what that licensee actually got in the license.  Some here say that the 
recipient has the right to make derivative works under any license.  
Others say that he doesn't.  How is this not a red flag?

Best Wishes,
Chris Travers
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