Getting grubby with ZFS - GPLv2 or later legality
Posted Dec 12, 2010 18:47 UTC (Sun) by ccurtis
In reply to: Getting grubby with ZFS - GPLv2 or later legality
Parent article: Getting grubby with ZFS
it seems to me that what you're implying would contradict ex post facto and "grandfathering" concepts.
Those legal doctrines don't apply because they are about criminal law.
I intentionally did not use the term "law" in my response. At the risk of veering off-topic, and fully admitting my non-lawyer status, and acknowledging that my political philosophy is not currently in vogue, I want to say that I think you're mistaken.
From the U.S. declaration of independence: "WE hold these Truths to be self-evident ... - That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, ..." My point here being that all law, especially that concerning government, is derived from contract law. Government itself is a contract among People.
Now, a contract is simply an agreement. A license is an offer of a "right to use," generally being bound by some terms. These terms form a contract (agreement). The terms of a license may change, at which point the licensee may opt not to agree to those changes, thus losing their license; but they cannot be held to new terms. Saying "licensee is responsible for all environmental damage they cause" is different from "licensee agrees to accept any new terms we wish to impose", whether those terms are "in the same spirit" or not.
The GPL is a somewhat strange beast in that the thing being licensed essentially owns itself. If the FSF (or any individual or organization) owns copyright over the entire body of software it's a bit clearer who the licensee and licensor are, but things get a little strange when you get your license to use from (e.g.) RedHat, itself a GPL licensee.
So all that to say, we should look at the actual text for this "GPLv2 or later", term:
"This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License
as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2
of the License, or (at your option) any later version."
I (Oracle), say "you can redistribute it"
as long as you
agree to GPL2 - or
agree to GPL something later. How you
choose to distribute it (GPLvX) does not affect how I Oracle (née Sun) have done so, which is GPLv2. That the GPLv2 allows you
to choose any later version
does not negate the fact that how I have distributed it is verbatim
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