Subject: RE: For Approval: GPLv3
From: "Philippe Verdy" <>
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2007 20:50:58 +0200

Matthew Flaschen wrote:
> Chris Travers wrote:
> > I think the GPL3 is very confusing here because on one hand it seems to
> > prohibit such an agent negotiation role (sublicensor) but at the same
> time,
> > try to put one in effect.    I wonder whether the right to remove these
> > permissions could be held unconscionable under contract law...
> Maybe, instead of wondering, you could provide some actual evidence.  I
> don't see how something BSD and many other licenses allow you to do
> could be considered unconscionable.

You seem to forget that this is NOT the GPL that prohibits directly the
activity of agent negociation, it is the GPL code authors that want to keep
their exclusive rights. So unless you have negociated directly with them to
get other distribution rights, you can't act as an agent based on the GPL
text alone if this is all you have.

The authors chose to make the software available under the GPL, without
sublicensor. You can't act against the authors desire, just by a mere
personal reinterpretation of the text you have. It is the authors that
provided the initial copy of the GPL text, as it is published and protected
by the FSF. They did that because they did not want to challenge their own
licencing terms and trusted the FSF for making a licence more solid than
what they would produce themselves with their own text.

The fact that the GPL text is copyrighted and protected by the FSF is a main
advantage for authors that would have to copyright their own licence text
and possibly grant things thy did not expect.

The GPL itself does not force authors to adopt it, except in some cases like
using it in combination with other GPL-covered code.

Reread the text in the spirit of authors. They chose this GPL text due to
many years of challenging and discussions and it has resisted without being
defeated in courts (unlike many other licences for proprietary productions
despite their text were supposedly reviewed by their costly lawyers).

The GPL is noty there to protect the interests of the FSF or the open-source
community as a whole. It is there because authors have chosen to use it, and
because the FSF has allowed them to reuse the licence text for licensing
their own creations. The FSF has allowed this only under very strict
conditions, and one of these conditions is that the GPL text must not be
modified and by stating explicitly that only the original text as published
by the FSF is legally binding.

The FSF expresses very strong warnings about why adding additional
permissions should be done with care (look at the page related to the LGPL
which is the GPL with additional permissions) because this creates a more
complex situation. But the core of the GPL is immutable.

Note also that the GPL does not automatically state that a version of the
GPL is automatically upgradable. To allow this, it describes a procedure in
which you, the author, must ALSO assign your copyright notice stating that
the work is covered by the GPL, and provides a sample text that shows how
the GPL may be updagred to newer versions. If such copyright notice does
state that newer versions are allowed, using the sentence shown in the annex
to the GPL, it won't be upgradable. The authors can restrict versions of the
GPL, but only if the work does not include parts where such upgradability of
the GPL is stated. If authors package their creation with components covered
by upgradable versions, the individual components remain upgradable,even if
the package as a whole is not.

The GPL leaves the freedom of choice of licencing terms to the authors as
long as it respects the licences of other components provided by other
authors. And finally the GPL states that you can't ignore any of these
requirements, as the GPL must be honoured as a whole, or rejected as a whole
(and the GPL states that in such cases, no other documents or parts of the
GPL will grant you other rights : you'll have to contact the original
authors, and that's whuy the GPL asks to authors to label their creations
with an explicit copyright notice establishing their identity and their
rights on the code, including the right to provide you with other
distribution terms).

The GPL does not prohibit multiple licences for the same work if they come
from the same authors.