Subject: Re: GPLv3 draft
From: "Ben Tilly" <>
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2006 09:31:20 -0800

 Fri, 7 Apr 2006 09:31:20 -0800
On 4/7/06, Stephen J. Turnbull <> wrote:
> >>>>> "simo" == simo  <> writes:
>     simo> These are notes of a committee, not FSF words.
> Exactly my point.  You say the FSF is "clear", and I say "I can't find
> it."  Then you say, "Eben Moglen told me personally."  Hm.

Stephen, I'm going to put what simo says into the, "it should be
obvious" bucket.

If the GPL v3 says exactly what the GPL v2 says, then there is no
legal difference between the two, and hence no reason to release the
GPL v3.  If there is a legal difference, then item 4 of the GPL v2
(you may not copy, modify, etc) demonstrates that there must be
incompatibility.  IANAL, but this has been confirmed to me in multiple
conversations with lawyers who should know.

Incidentally it is anticipation of this exact problem which talks

>     simo> We may say that, but I will wait the end of the debate on
>     simo> GPLv3 and the release of the official version. Actually we
>     simo> are speaking just about a draft that will surely change
>     simo> before the end of the process.
> It's a draft FAQ/HOWTO, clearly labeled as such.  Wouldn't it be more
> constructive to fix it now, at a stage where people are most confused?

People are always confused. :-/

>     simo> Terms in legal sense means just conditions (or so I am told,
>     simo> IANAL).  So I do not understand why a judge should be
>     simo> looking at identical wording.
> As an optimization.  If "diff GPLv2 GPLv3" produces no output, then
> the terms are the same.  This is absolutely safe.

Identical text is sufficient but not necessary.

However even miniscule deviations can change the meaning of a license.
 For instance identical wording is NOT sufficient.  In particular if a
disclaimer of warranty is not entirely in upper case, it is less
likely to be enforceable in some court systems.

> If not, the question remains, what constitutes the same terms?  For
> example, can an implicit patent license be the "same terms" as an
> explicit patent license?  Can GPLv2, which has no equivalent to GPLv3
> section 3, be said to impose the "same terms" regarding DRM?  Norbert
> seems to think so; if he's wrong, why?

I have no idea why Norbert thinks as he does.  However the actions of
the FSF indicate that they don't agree with him.  If the FSF thought
that the GPL v2 logically implied everything that is in the GPL v3,
then there would be no reason to release the GPL v3.  They could just
explain why the GPL v2 already says what they want.  The fact that the
FSF wishes to go through the pain of releasing the GPL v3 and trying
to get people to adopt it strongly indicates that the FSF believes
that the GPL v3 says something that they want said which the GPL v2
does not.

>     simo> I wish people would be more constructive and explain
>     simo> clearly, through comments on the comments system,
> Why put in the effort, and muddy things up, on an alpha-test document?
> There are competent people with a professional interest and competence
> working on it now, and the odds are they'll catch 99% of what I might
> have to say.  Draft 2 is soon enough for me.

Your odds of making a substantial change now are better than they will
be.  That said, I'm not participating in the process because my goals
are different than the FSF's goals.  Therefore I see no point in
wasting everyone's time by pointing that out.