Subject: Re: GPL and FTP
From: kragen@pobox.com (Kragen)
Date: Wed, 31 Dec 1997 05:51:51 -0500 (EST)

On Wed, 31 Dec 1997, Joel N. Weber II wrote:
> (We should find it reassuring that one person does not have the power
> to remove the restrictions of the GPL.  There is a potentially large
> loophole in that the FSF can decide at any time to change the licensing
> terms of every program ever written that specifies version 2 or later
> of the GPL.)

Most of those programs say `version 2 or later, at your option'.  Which
means that you can distribute them under GPLv2 even if GPLv3 comes out.

So the FSF could loosen licensing on those programs, but it couldn't
tighten it, assuming that all the license notices really are legal and
irrevocable.

It could, of course, tighten licensing on derived works, like gcc 3.x --
right?  (Since the GPL's protections aren't enforceable against the
copyright owner itself?)

I occasionally have nightmares about hostile takeovers of the FSF, with
people threatening to take gcc users to court -- the users would win, I'm
sure, but....

I feel safer with Linux-style (distributed ownership) GPL.  If any one
copyright holder starts objecting to the GPL after distributing their work
as part of the Linux kernel, the rest of the copyright holders can sue
them for violating the GPL.

Kragen