Re: Dual-Licensing Linux Kernel with GPL V2 and GPL V3
From: Linus Torvalds
Date: Wed Jun 20 2007 - 14:04:51 EST
On Wed, 20 Jun 2007, Dave Neuer wrote:
> > And anybody who thinks others don't have the "right to choice", and then
> > tries to talk about "freedoms" is a damn hypocritical moron.
> One might say the same thing about someone who claims not to have a
> moral right to force certain choices on others in some circumstances
> (e.g. when those others have used copyrighted work in a product and
> ought to understand that for some not insignificant portion of the
> copyright holders, the terms implicitly included preserving certain
> "freedoms" for downstream recipients) while reserving a very similar
> moral right with others (e.g. potential murderers, theives,
> tresspassers, distributors of proprietary derived works).
I don't disagree that "morals" are something very personal, and you can
thus never really argue on morals *except*for*your*own*behaviour*.
So I claim that for *me* the right choice is GPLv2 (or something similar).
I think the GPLv3 is overreaching.
There's a very fundamental, and very basic rule that is often a good
guideline. It's "Do unto others".
So the reason I *personally* like the GPLv2 is that it does unto others
exactly what I wish they would do unto me.
It allows everybody do make that choice that I consider to be really
important: the choice of how something _you_ designed gets used.
And it does that exactly by *limiting* the license to only that one work.
Not trying to extend it past the work.
The GPLv3 can never do that. Quite fundamentally, whenever you extend the
"reach" of a license past just the derived work, you will *always* get
into a situation where people who designed two different things get into a
conflict when they meet. The GPLv2 simply avoids the conflict entirely,
and has no problem at all with the "Do unto others as you would have them
do unto you".
In a very real sense, the GPLv3 asks people to do things that I personally
would refuse to do. I put Linux on my kids computers, and I limit their
ability to upgrade it. Do I have that legal right (I sure do, I'm their
legal guardian), but the point is that this is not about "legality", this
is about "morality". The GPLv3 doesn't match what I think is morally where
I want to be. I think it *is* ok to control peoples hardware. I do it
So your arguments about "potential murderes", "thieves", "trespassers" and
"distributors of proprietary derived works" is totally missing the point.
It's missing the point that "morals" are about _personal_ choices. You
cannot force others to a certain moral standpoint.
Laws (like copyright law) and legal issues, on the other hand, are
fundamentally *not* about "personal" things, they are about interactions
that are *not* personal. So laws need to be fundamnetally different from
morals. A law has to take into account that different people have
different moral background, and a law has to be _pragmatic_.
So trying to mix up a moral argument with a legal one is a fundamental
mistake. They have two totally different and separate areas.
The GPLv2 is a *legal* license. It's not a "moral license" or a "spiritual
guide". Its raison-d'etre is that pragmatic area where different peoples
different moral rules meet.
In contrast, a persons *choice* to use the GPLv2 is his private choice.
Totally different. My choice of the GPLv2 doesn't say anything about my
choice of laws or legal issues.
You don't have to agree with it - but exactly because it's his private
choice, it's a place where the persons moral rules matter, in a way that
they do *not* matter in legal issues.
So killing, thieving, and distributing proprietary derived works are about
*legal* choices. Are they also "immoral"? Who knows. Sometimes killing is
moral. Sometimes thievery can me moral. Sometimes distributing derived
works can be moral. Morality != legality. They are two totally different
Only religious fanatics and totalitarian states equate "morality" with
"legality". There's tons of examples of that from human history. The ruler
is not just a king, he's a God, so disagreeing with him is immoral, but
it's also illegal, and you can get your head cut off.
In fact, a lot of our most well-known heroes are the ones that actually
saw the difference between morals and laws.
A German soldier who refused to follow orders was clearly the more "moral"
one, wouldn't you say? Never mind law. Gandhi is famous for his peaceful
civil disobedience - was that "immoral" or "illegal"?
Or Robin Hood. A romantic tale, but one where the big fundamnetal part of
the picture is the _difference_ between morality and legality.
Think about it.
Yes, there is obviously overlap, in that a lot of laws are there to
protect things that people also consider "moral". But the fact that there
is correlation should *not* cause anybody to think that they are at all
about the same thing.
> To call people who draw the line in a different place than you
> hypocrites is BS.
That was *not* what I did.
I don't think it's hypocritical to prefer the GPLv3. That's a fine choice,
it's just not *mine*.
What I called hypocritical was to do so in the name of "freedom", while
you're at the same time trying to argue that I don't have the "freedom" to
make my own choice.
See? THAT is hypocritical.
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