Documentation vs. Software (Re: Savannah rejects a project because it uses GPL)

Gareth Bowker tgb at
Thu Feb 23 17:36:15 UTC 2006

On Wed, Feb 22, 2006 at 11:36:34PM +0100, Alfred M. Szmidt wrote:
>    I'm sorry to contradict you, but this is completely wrong:
> No, it isn't wrong at all.
>    > There is no law in the world that will protect you from slander
>    > if you explicitly allow for the right to modify a work.  You
>    > cannot sue a person for using a free software program in a manner
>    > that you consider bad since you explicitly gave this right.  Same
>    > applies if you give the explict right to modify a text in anyway
>    > or form.
>    Copyright law (and licenses) are concerned with copying. They don't
>    make void other laws.  Who sells knives doesn't limit your use, but
>    cutting throats is illegal nonetheless.
> Comparing murder to modification of a text is a bit extreme specially
> when they have nothing in common.

Let's try an example back in the context of software.

Let's say I write a shoot-em-up game, where you're shooting aliens
(similar to, say, Doom). I release that under GPL.

Now, someone else comes along and changes the game (which they're
perfectly entitled to do under GPL, obviously). Instead of shooting at
aliens, you're now shooting Shia Muslims, as an example.

Under UK law, that would be incitement to religious hatred, and illegal.
Using your logic, because I allowed anyone to modify my work, I can be
sued. This is clearly ridiculous.

In the context of books/documentation released under GFDL, simply
because I allow you to modify a work I publish under GFDL, it doesn't
mean that future changes to the book are my responsibility. If someone
changes what I originally wrote to now be libellous, that doesn't mean
that I can be sued for it. Such a situation is absurd, yet that's how I
interpret what you've stated. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but that's

> There is no law in the world that will protect you from slander
> if you explicitly allow for the right to modify a work.

seems to say to me.



PS. Slander is verbal attack on a person, Libel is a written attack.
Given that we're talking about GFDL works, I assume you meant libel
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 189 bytes
Desc: Digital signature
URL: <>

More information about the Discussion mailing list