RFH: GPLv3

Richard Kenner kenner@vlsi1.ultra.nyu.edu
Mon Jul 16 15:20:00 GMT 2007


> >> Note that the issue, in practice, isn't what the FSF distributes but what
> >> a third party (RedHat, Apple, AdaCore, etc) distributes.
> 
> FSF determines the minimum level of the GPL license, not RedHat.

Yes, sure.  However, the issue here is not what the license actually
*is*, but how one is to *know* what it is.  If I get something
directly from the FSF, I can have *some* degree of confidence that the
text in the files actually corresponds to that license.  If I get it from
party X, there's no way that I can know whether or not party X modified
the text in the file so that it no longer reflects the proper license.

> > One thing which hasn't been emphasised enough in this discussion is that
> > the version of the GPL under which a file is licensed according to its
> > header does not govern how *you* may receive that file, nor place 
> > obligations on the person distributing that file to you: it places
> > obligations on (and grants corresponding rights to) you in any *further*
> > act of distribution.
> 
> The GPL does places the same requirements on distributors.

Yes, but please re-read the above very carefully!  If I obtain GPLv2
software, relicense it as GPLv3 (which I can do), and then distribute it to
you, the terms of the GPL that apply to *me* is v2 (since that's the
license I obtained the software with), but you must follow the terms of
GPLv3 (since that's the license *you* got).

> A contract requires two (or more) parties to come to an agreement.

Exactly.

> GPL is a license.  The GPL is not a contract.  There isn't even an implied
> contract.

A license is a form of a contract.  Look at nolo.com, a site aimed at
giving legal advice to laypeople.  They define "license" as "A contract
giving written permission to use ...".

Indeed a key issue in using the GPL is what establishes the legal
relationship necessary to the contract.



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