Re: GPL and additional restrictions

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On Thu, Jun 02, 2011 at 11:11:40AM -0400, Matt McCutchen wrote:
> > (The one glaring exception to
> > this is the license of Liberation Fonts; consider that license
> > grandfathered in unless and until we can ever get that license
> > changed.)
> What is more galling to me in that case is that the license falsely
> refers to 1(b) as an exception, as if to make it seem more benign than
> it is.  An exception is by definition an additional permission that
> distributors are allowed to remove (e.g., in order to combine the work
> with a plain-GPL work).

This license was negotiated with the supplier company before I arrived
at Red Hat.  I basically agree with your criticism - the only thing I
would take issue with is the suggestion of bad intent. The Red Hat
lawyer involved in negotiating this license had absolutely no
intention of using the term "exception" in some misleading way. There
was, I believe, a lack of adequate familiarity with the longstanding
traditional use of "exception" in GPL licensing culture, with the
traditional distinction between additional permissions and additional
restrictions, and with the non-normativeness of tacking on
noncustomary additional restrictions to the GPL.

- RF

Richard E. Fontana
Open Source Licensing and Patent Counsel
Red Hat, Inc.
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