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SubjectRe: GPL V3 and Linux - Dead Copyright Holders
On Tue, 31 Jan 2006, Linus Torvalds wrote:

> under the GPL", not "GPLv2 or later". The _only_ license rights anybody
> ever had to those files come from the COPYING file, which very clearly
> states that it's "version 2, 1991"

No one has disputed that I think. My understanding of that text, as

Version 2, June 1991

Is that it refers as the version of the license itself. The 'revision
ID' of the published license. And that very version of the GPL has a
clause to allow version 'conversion' in section 9 to other versions.

> The COPYING file was edited (over _five_ years ago) to clarify the issue,

That wasn't clarifying the issue, that was to make sure section 9's
"any version" could no longer apply. You even seem to have
acknowledged that very text of section 9 in your announcement of
2.4.0-test8's COPYING change:

`There's been some discussions of a GPL v3 which would limit
licensing to certain "well-behaved" parties, and I'm not sure I'd
agree with such restrictions - and the GPL itself allows for "any
version" so I wanted to make this part unambigious as far as my
personal code is concerned."'


Until you made that change, a reasonable person might have presumed
that lack of version statement (no, the actual GPL license version at
the top of the GPL itself does not count ;) ) would mean section 9
would have applied.

I'm not familiar enough with Linux kernel history to know whether the
implicit "only version 2" view was widely known amongst kernel
developers back then, prior to the edit.

> and that has been the case for the last 5+ years.

Right. The "version 2 only" only has been the status quo for 5+ years
now, so most people must be content with it, grudgingly or not.

> Exactly. That's why I added the clarification on top of the COPYING
> file: people _have_ been confused.

Read your own email again. :)

> That confusion doesn't stem from Linux, btw, but from the FSF distribution
> of the GPLv2 license itself. The license is distributed as one single
> file, which actually contains three parts: (1) the "preamble", (2) the
> actual license itself and (3) the "How to Apply These Terms to Your New
> Programs" mini-FAQ.
> And that third part actually contains the wording "(at your option) any
> later version.",


But the actual /license/, the second part, says none specified ->
"any version ever published" in section 9. The "any later version"
text is in the 3rd part, the suggested preamble.

> files. In other words, that was never actually part of the license
> itself, but just a "btw, here's how you should use it" post-script.

Right. But there are *two* (any.*version):

1. "Any version", which is:

a) In the license itself, to cover case where programme
doesn't specify which version(s) apply, as section 9.
(ie in the "second part").

b) the text you refered to in the 2.4.0-test8 above (ie
you were looking at section 9 back then, not the preamble ;) )

2. "Any later version", which is what is mentioned in the preamble
(the third part).

Alan's reply to you was on the basis of 1. You're arguing based on 2,
having apparently completely overlooked 1 (though you apparently had
not back when you composed that 2.4.0-test8 email).

Paul Jakma Key ID: 64A2FF6A
God is real, unless declared integer.
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