[License-discuss] Red Hat compilation copyright & RHEL contract (was Re: License incompatibility)

John Cowan cowan at mercury.ccil.org
Mon Sep 2 18:56:00 UTC 2013

Bradley M. Kuhn scripsit:

> It's certainly possible to license all sorts of copyrights under GPL,
> since it's a copyright license.  Red Hat has chosen, IMO rather oddly,
> to claim strongly a compilation copyright on putting together RHEL and
> Red Hat licenses that copyright under terms of GPL.

I don't see where the oddity comes in.  If we grant that the compilation
which is RHEL required a creative spark in the selection (for the
arrangement is mechanical), then it is a fit object of copyright.
By licensing that selection of works under the GPL, Red Hat permits
another party (call it Teal Hat) to create and publish a derivative work
(that is, a collection based on RHEL but containing additional works,
or fewer works, or both).  But Teal Hat must *not* prevent a third party
(call it Chartreuse Hat) from creating yet a third collective work
based on Teal Hat's.  That seems to me a worthy purpose, and one that
the FSF should encourage.  RHEL is not as such free software, but it is
a free collection-of-software, as opposed to a proprietary collection
of free software.

> The RHEL customer contract has long been discussed, and it amounts to a
> "if you exercise your rights under GPL, your money is no good here"
> arrangement.  That's not an arrangement that I think is reasonable
> (and it's why I wouldn't be a RHEL customer myself), but there's
> nothing in GPL (that I'm aware of) that requires that one keep someone
> as a customer.

Indeed, it seems very reasonable to me that Red Hat doesn't want a direct
competitor as a customer.  It probably has customers that are competitors
in a more indirect sense: IBM comes to mind as a possibility.

I Hope, Sir, that we are not                    John Cowan
mutually Un-friended by this                    cowan at ccil.org
Difference which hath happened                  http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
betwixt us.     --Thomas Fuller, Appeal of Injured Innocence (1659)

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