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From: Patrick Maupin on 11 May 2010 16:39
On May 11, 5:24 am, Paul Boddie <p...(a)boddie.org.uk> wrote:
> On 10 Mai, 17:01, Patrick Maupin <pmau...(a)gmail.com> wrote:
> > I'll be charitable and assume the fact that you can make that
> > statement without apparent guile merely means that you haven't read
> > the post I was referring to:
> Of course I have read it, and not just recently either. But this is a
> position paper by the author of the licence, and it doesn't mean that
> someone who has written a GPL-licensed library completely agrees with
> that position. And anyway, it's a case of "take it or leave it" - it's
> not like the author or the FSF are sneaking stuff into every product
> and every corner of the market and then telling you that you can't
> "unchoose" their stuff.
OK. Now I'm REALLY confused. I said "Certainly RMS
carefully lays out that the LGPL should be used sparingly in his "Why
you shouldn't use the Lesser GPL for your next library" post. (Hint:
he's not suggesting a permissive license instead.)"
to which you replied:
"Sure, but all he's asking you to do is to make the software available
under a GPL-compatible licence."
and then I tried to politely show that you were wrong about RMS's
intentions, but now, but you're saying "oh, of course, he'd say that
-- he wrote the license" which is basically what I've been saying all
along. But if you have read it like you say, then it appears you were
being very disingenuous in your original reply!
> Although it seems quite unfair, the e-mail discussion about the
> licence does show that Stallman was not initially convinced that works
> should be affected in such a way (with regard to the Objective-C
> compiler developed by NeXT), and that Haible was not strongly opposed
> to changing the licence. You can argue that Stallman overreached by
> demanding a licence change and that consideration of such matters has
> progressed since that time, but Haible always had the option of not
> using or supporting readline - only the latter is contentious,
"was not strongly opposed to changing the license" As I already
mentioned, he was more interested in doing useful stuff than worrying
about the license. Yes, readline was the hook that sucked him into
using the GPL, but IMHO RMS was flat out wrong about the licensing
implications. As I mentioned, though, the morality and the legality
are probably different animals.
> and the
> obligation of GPL-compatible licensing (as opposed to GPL-licensing)
> now diminishes how contentious this is today.
NO. If you are building an application, and distributing GPLed stuff
as part of it, the FSF still maintains that the license is such that
the entire application must be GPLed. You keep acting like this isn't
true, but it absolutely is if you're distributing the entire
> > I think that, legally, they probably don't have a leg to stand on for
> > some of their overarching claims (e.g. about shipping proprietary
> > software that could link to readline, without even shipping
> > readline). But morally -- well, they've made their position
> > reasonably clear and I try to abide by it. That still doesn't make it
> > "not really FUD." I'd call this sort of badgering "copyright misuse"
> > myself.
> Again, you have to consider the intent of the licensing: that some
> software which links to readline results in a software system that
> should offer the "four freedoms", because that's the price of linking
> to readline whose licence has promised that any system which builds
> upon it shall offer those privileges.
But I did consider the intent, and as I have made clear, I think
that's a bullying tactic that fragments the software world
unnecessarily. Obviously YMMV.
> > > As for rst2pdf, what your modifications would mean is that the
> > > software would need to be redistributed under a GPL-compatible
> > > licence.
NO. You're still not paying attention. The FSF's clear position is
that if you actually *redistribute* software under the GPL as *part of
a system* then the full package must be licensed *under the GPL*.
> Once again, I refer you to the intent of the licensing: if someone has
> the software in front of them which uses svglib, then they need to
> have the privileges granted to them by the GPL. Yes, if the software
> also uses some component with a GPL-incompatible licence, then this
> causes a problem.
It appears that the FSF's position is the ability to link to svglib
would require software to be licensed under the GPL. I don't believe
that, but I do believe that if rst2pdf distributed svglib (or even
patches to svglib which were clearly derivative works) then yes,
rst2pdf would have to be distributed under the GPL. This kind of
bullshit is only acceptable to people who only think a single license
> > "A system incorporating a GPL-covered program is an extended version
> > of that program. The GPL says that any extended version of the program
> > must be released under the GPL if it is released at all."
> > This makes it clear that the overall work must be GPLed. Now, all of
> > a sudden, downstream users cannot do some things they could have done
> > before. Can you not see that taking a preexisting MIT-licensed
> > project and adding code to make it GPL could negatively affect some of
> > its users and that that is not necessarily an unalloyed good?
> Well, I have referred several times to WebKit without you taking the
OK, I don't work with webkit. I knew you were hinting at something,
but why the games, I don't know. I guess it's all about mystique and
> but that provides a specific case of a project which is LGPL-
> licensed despite being based on (in GPLv3 terminology) libraries which
> were distributed under the GPL and combined with that software.
What other libraries? I don't know it's history. I give you specific
examples at problems; you hint around at things you claim are not
problems and then still don't give specifics.
> Similarly, the effort to ensure that CPython's licence was GPL-
> compatible had a lot to do with the right to redistribute with GPL-
> licensed code (actually readline, if I remember correctly).
Yes, but the Python project doesn't actually distribute readline, and
(as I mentioned) people are more informed now, and it would be
difficult for RMS to bully Python into relicensing. But if the Python
distribution *included* GNU Readline, then RMS would be on firmer
ground, and the license would probably have to be changed. This is
*exactly* the situation I was describing with svglib -- can you still
not see that it is a problem to just toss unsupported free software
out there with a GPL license? Unsupported Apache or MIT is fine --
fix it or ignore. Unsupported GPL is an attractive nuisance.
> Is readline trivial? Was readline trivial in 1992?
Again, you could have neural net prediction and other fancy
technologies, but in general, yes, the concept is pretty trivial and
there were many systems that already had such things back then.
> Does it even
> matter, because the author is more or less saying that they don't want
> their code incorporated in a proprietary system?
Yes it matters because as others have pointed out, sometimes people
use stuff which is purported to be "free" without a full understanding
of all the implications. But this gets back to my general complaint
about co-opting the word "free" which you don't think is a problem
because you have chosen to use other words.
> It's interesting to
> see that GPLv3 doesn't talk about derived works or derivatives (at
> least not as much as GPLv2), but instead talks about things being
> "based on" other things, but as I've already said, at the point of
> someone running a bunch of software components together, the intent of
> copyleft licences is to say that the user should be able to take that
> (or part of it, in the case of "weak copyleft" licences) and change,
> recompile and distribute its sources, modified or not.
Trust me, I know the intent, and could even consider it a noble goal.
But I think a lot of the means employed in getting to this end are
From: Patrick Maupin on 11 May 2010 16:50
On May 11, 5:34 am, Paul Boddie <p...(a)boddie.org.uk> wrote:
> On 10 Mai, 20:36, Patrick Maupin <pmau...(a)gmail.com> wrote:
> > I've addressed this before. Aahz used a word in an accurate, but to
> > you, inflammatory, sense, but it's still accurate -- the man *would*
> > force you to pay for the chocolate if you took it.
> Yes, *if* you took it. He isn't forcing you to take it, though, is he?
No, but he said a lot of words that I didn't immediately understand
about what it meant to be free and that it was free, and then after I
bit into it he told me he owned my soul now.
> > You're making it sound like whining, but Aahz was simply trying to state a fact.
> It is whining if someone says, "I really want that chocolate, but that
> nasty man is going to make me pay for it!"
But that's not what happened. I mean, he just told me that I might
have to give some of it to others later. He didn't mention that if I
spread peanut butter on mine before I ate it that I'd have to give
people Reese's Peanut Butter cups.
> > The fact is, I know the man would force me to pay for the chocolate, so in
> > some cases that enters into the equation and keeps me from wanting the
> > chocolate.
> If the man said, "please take the chocolate, but I want you to share
> it with your friends", and you refused to do so because you couldn't
> accept that condition, would it be right to say, "that man is forcing
> me to share chocolate with my friends"?
But the thing is, he's *not* making me share the chocolate with any of
my friends. He's not even making me share my special peanut butter
and chocolate. What he's making me do is, if I give my peanut butter
and chocolate to one of my friends, he's making me make *that* friend
promise to share. I try not to impose obligations like that on my
friends, so obviously the "nice" man with the chocolate isn't my
> > This isn't whining; just a common-sense description of
> > reality. Personally, I think this use of the word "force" is much
> > less inflammatory than the deliberate act of co-opting the word
> > "freedom" to mean "if you think you can take this software and do
> > anything you want with it, you're going to find out differently when
> > we sue you."
> The word "freedom" means a number of things. If you don't like the way
> Messrs Finney and Stallman use the term, please take it up with them.
> But to say that someone entering a voluntary agreement is "forced" to
> do something, when they weren't forced into that agreement in the
> first place, is just nonsense. It's like saying that the shopkeeper is
> some kind of Darth Vader character who is coercing people to take the
> chocolate and then saddling them with obligations against their will.
I explained this very carefully before multiple times. Let me give
concrete examples -- (1) I have told my children before "if we take
that candy, then they will make us pay for it" and (2) if we included
(GPLed software) in this (MIT-licensed software) then we will have to
change the license. In both these cases, once the decision has been
made, then yes, force enters into it. And no, I don't think the
average shop keeper is nearly as evil as Darth, or even RMS.
From: Patrick Maupin on 11 May 2010 17:02
On May 11, 9:00 am, Paul Boddie <p...(a)boddie.org.uk> wrote:
> On 11 Mai, 15:00, Lie Ryan <lie.1...(a)gmail.com> wrote:
> > Come on, 99% of the projects released under GPL did so because they
> > don't want to learn much about the law; they just need to release it
> > under a certain license so their users have some legal certainty.
> Yes, this is frequently the case. And the GPL does offer some
> certainty that various permissive licences do not.
Huh? Permissive licenses offer much better certainty for someone
attempting a creative mash-up. Different versions of the Apache
license don't conflict with each other. If I use an MIT-licensed
component, it doesn't attempt to make me offer my whole work under
> Well, that's always an option as well, but at the same time, there are
> people willing to pursue licence violations, and these people have
> done so successfully. There's no need to make an impassioned argument
> for apathy, though. Some people do wish to dictate what others can do
> with their work.
Oh, I get it. You were discussing the certainty that an author can
control what downstream users do with the software to some extent.
Yes, I fully agree. The GPL is for angry idealists who have an easily
outraged sense of justice, who don't have enough real problems to work
BTW, I'm here to make an impassioned argument for apathy. For
example, I think the world needs fewer suicide bombers, and the more
apathy we can get.
From: Patrick Maupin on 11 May 2010 17:03
On May 11, 6:18 am, Steven D'Aprano <st...(a)REMOVE-THIS-
> Last time I came home with chocolate, I tried that excuse on my wife. She
> didn't believe it for a second.
> Next time, I'll try claiming that I was obliged to eat the chocolate
> because of the GPL.
Good luck with that. Women can always see right through bad
analogies, especially where chocolate is concerned!
From: Lie Ryan on 11 May 2010 23:06
On 05/12/10 07:02, Patrick Maupin wrote:
> On May 11, 9:00 am, Paul Boddie <p...(a)boddie.org.uk> wrote:
>> On 11 Mai, 15:00, Lie Ryan <lie.1...(a)gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Come on, 99% of the projects released under GPL did so because they
>>> don't want to learn much about the law; they just need to release it
>>> under a certain license so their users have some legal certainty.
>> Yes, this is frequently the case. And the GPL does offer some
>> certainty that various permissive licences do not.
> Huh? Permissive licenses offer much better certainty for someone
> attempting a creative mash-up. Different versions of the Apache
> license don't conflict with each other. If I use an MIT-licensed
> component, it doesn't attempt to make me offer my whole work under
Legal certainty as in, imagine if you released a piece of code, and use
this as the license:
"Feel free to use the code"
Then some other programmers see it, and use it in their project. The
original author then sued them because he actually intended the code to
be linked to, not copied pasted into another code base.
Then he modified the license to sound:
"Feel free to link, include, or use the code"
Then some other programmers see the code, and modified it to fit their
purpose. The original author then sued them because he only intended the
code to be "used unchanged" not "modified".
"Feel free to link, include, use, or modify the code"
Then some other programmers see the code, and used it in some commercial
project. The original author then sued them because he only intended the
code to be used in open source projects.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat and you get twenty page long license like GPL or
OWL[*]. By this time, the other programmer have learnt not to use code
with such uncertain license and the original author would either have
taken a law degree or learn to use a well-known licenses (GPL or
whatever) instead of writing his own.
The other programmer would always find a loophole in such ad-hoc
license, inadvertantly or otherwise. If the original author used GPL
(or OWL), the other programmer knows exactly when their use case is
protected by GPL/OWL (i.e. even if the original author later found that
he disagrees with a certain clause in the license he choose, it then
becomes his fault for choosing it; the other programmer's use case is
protected by the license and thus he have the legal certainty).
[*] OWL: other well-known license
As a plus, using a well-known license means the other programmer also
don't need to hire a lawyer to determine whether he can use your code.
The other programmer sees GPL and remembers that FSF listed the license
he's using as GPL-compatible, he knows immediately he can use the code
without reading the full text of GPL. The other programmer sees some
Apache and he remembers previously he had used another Apache-licensed
code and knows immediately that he can use this other Apache project. If
everyone writes their own license, then this knowledge reuse wouldn't be
>> Well, that's always an option as well, but at the same time, there are
>> people willing to pursue licence violations, and these people have
>> done so successfully. There's no need to make an impassioned argument
>> for apathy, though. Some people do wish to dictate what others can do
>> with their work.
> Oh, I get it. You were discussing the certainty that an author can
> control what downstream users do with the software to some extent.
> Yes, I fully agree. The GPL is for angry idealists who have an easily
> outraged sense of justice, who don't have enough real problems to work
The point is, GPL (and OWL) is for programmers who just don't care about
the legal stuffs and would want to spend more time writing code than