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Re: [vox-tech] Self-replacing license [was Urgent news: Linux maybe relicensed]
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Re: [vox-tech] Self-replacing license [was Urgent news: Linux maybe relicensed]

Rick Moen wrote:
Quoting Micah Cowan (micah@cowan.name):

Rearranged to suit my purposes.

>>The beef I have with the "at your option" part is that you are placing
>>the future of your code entirely within the hands of the FSF. Now, maybe
>>those are good hands. But theoretically, the FSF could come out with a
>>/completely/ different, and not necessarily better, license, and call it
>>GPL 3.0. Maybe it's suddenly not even free (not that it's likely, but
>>who knows what RMS's successors will be like?); or maybe it tweaks the
>>definition of "free" in a way I don't like.
> Then, you (the recipient) elect GPLv2.

Well, yeah: as a recipient, I have no problem whatsoever with the "at your option" part. I will always choose whichever license gives me the most freedom, whether that's GPLv2, 3 or 27.

As an /author/, I elect GPLv2 (no "or later").

However, there is an interesting situation: when I'm both recipient and author (as in the case of modifying-and-distributing). In this case, my somewhat tenuous understanding is that I could actually elect to limit the entire body of code to GPLv2. But as IANAL, I would not feel very confident to do this, particularly if my own contribution were slight.

If they had done the "version 2 or at your option" thing from the beginning, then they wouldn't have had to obtain agreement from other code contributors.

Of likely interest:
In reading that section, I've already seen what I believe to be a glaring error of legal interpretation. This paragraph in particular:

A "collective work" is a creative work of a group of individuals who
do not share a common copyright in the result. Individual portions of
such a work may (and often do) have copyrights, and there may also be
a collective-work copyright on the work as a whole. The difference is
practically relevant because, according to 17 USC 201 the holder of
the collective-work copyright is legally privileged to set the
distribution terms for the package as a whole (in the statute, this
expressed negatively as a statement that the collective-work copyright
holder acquires only those rights).

Reads a lot into 17 USC 201, more than I think is viable. I see nothing in the referenced text whatsoever that allows for the holder of the copyright on a portion of a collecive-work to "set the distribution terms for the package as a whole."---especially at the only part of the section that includes the referenced words, "acquires only those rights." If I believed this to be a legitimate reading, I'd be a helluva lot more scared.

But I note that the document you've referred to is still in draft stage, so perhaps this position will be altered at a later date.

As I've already said, IANAL, and one of the authors of the document you link to appears to be one, at any rate. But I'd at least like to see better justification for the paragraph I've quoted then I currently see in this document, or a reference to a case decision that bolsters this interpretation. (There is a case referenced a short ways down, but it's actually an unrelated point.)

Regardless, it looks to be an informative document, and I'm interested in seeing how it reads in the end. Thanks for the link!

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