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I am planning to keep notes about the problems of the Fedora EULA here. I consider this personal Fedora-related space, and am using this to help keep information about the problems the current EULA creates, specially by making Fedora non-free software. This is a work in progress!

I consider this similar to several other pages in the Fedora wiki. Several of them are about issues that we need to fix in the software code. This page is about issues that we need to fix in the license.

See also Legal/Export .


The main issues are:

  • Fedora is not free software
  • Fedora is not open source software
  • Fedora violates the GNU General Public License
  • Fedora has more restrictions than the US law requires
  • EULAs are bad

Fedora is not free software

There is a general definition for free software , made by the Free Software Foundation. Although it is not necessarily the best definition, it is all we currently have. The current Fedora EULA contradicts with that definition in the following ways:

  • In section 5c, the EULA requires downloaders, installers, and users "represent and warrant" that they will not distribute the software to certain people (even if the redistributer is not under the US jurisdiction). This is in contradiction with the freedoms 2 and 3, the freedom to redistribute copies to help your neighbor and the freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits. In other words, the EULA requires German citizens to "represent and warrant" that they will ask for permission from the US government if they wish to transfer the software to certain people.
  • In section 5d, the EULA restricts the usage of the software. This is in contradicion with freedom 0, which is the freedom to run the program, for any purpose. For example, the EULA requires French citizens to "represent and warrant" that they will ask the US government for permission before they use the software for certain activities.

Fedora is not open source

The Open Source Definition includes a part that acknowledges certain requirements of the US law but at the same time makes it clear how open source licenses may mention those requirements. Section 5 of The Open Source Definition mentions that: Some countries, including the United States, have export restrictions for certain types of software. An OSD-conformant license may warn licensees of applicable restrictions and remind them that they are obliged to obey the law; however, it may not incorporate such restrictions itself.

The Fedora EULA unfortunately incorporates such restrictions, instead of a warning, which makes it not conforming to the Open Source Definition.

Fedora violates the GPL

The EULA says that subject to certain terms, it "grants [...] a license to this collective work pursuant to the GNU General Public License". But the GNU GPL does not allow adding more restrictions to the license. If one releases some software under the GPL, he may not add more restrictions than the GPL asks. This is mentioned in section 6 of the GPL: "You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein."

Some say that section 8 of the GPL allows adding geographical restrictions because of the US export regulations. But it is not so. This is section 8 of the GPL: "If the distribution and/or use of the Program is restricted in certain countries either by patents or by copyrighted interfaces, the original copyright holder who places the Program under this License may add an explicit geographical distribution limitation excluding those countries, so that distribution is permitted only in or among countries not thus excluded. In such case, this License incorporates the limitation as if written in the body of this License." First, section 8 allows geographical restriction only because of patents of copyrighted interfaces, not for any other reason. Second, some of the restrictions the EULA adds are not geographical at all.

Fedora has more restrictions than the US law requires

From what I have read from the US law, I believe that the US law does not require such measures that are taken in the EULA. I am not a lawyer, of course, but I believe that everybody has a right to investigate the laws and see if they actually apply to a situation or not.

For example, very possibly, as GregDeKoenigsberg says in this message , "the only *real* restriction here is that we may not *directly* distribute Fedora into embargoed destinations". But the EULA is asking much more than that.


EULAs are bad



Here I plan to mention some solutions to the problems of the EULA, while conforming to the US law. TBD.

Some solution is actually not restricting all of the software in Fedora by the restrictions, but only the parts that are regulated by the US law.


There has been several concerns about my opposition to the wording of the current EULA. Many of the questions are actualy quotes. Some FAQ-like answers are below. I usually try to not judge their correctness, but only provide some insight into the matter:

Fedora is U.S.-based, and Red Hat, as its distributor, has an obligation to abide by U.S. law regardless of what the GPL may say!

If that is true, Red Hat/Fedora may not redistribute that software. Section 7 of the GPL explicitly mentions that "If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all."

Why are you doing this? You know that no one can implement those restrictions!

Nevertheless, the restrictions create FUD . There are many people who think one cannot use free software in Iran, or one may not export give software to Iran or Iranians. I believe removing the unnecessary restriction will help in dispersing that FUD.

By your definition of free software, it is impossible to make any software at all free, because those export restrictions will exist no matter what license the software is under!

There are certain assumptions in that claim. The most important is that every software developed anywhere in the world is regulated by some US regulations that says one may not export these to certain people.

That is not true. The US law does not apply to people who are not US citizens and are living outside the US. The US law does not apply to all software either: there are some criteria, and most importantly the regulations mostly apply to proprietary software and cryptographic ones.

So, it is possible to make free software. It may just be impossible to redistribute such free software in /from the United States without a patent license for playing MP3s. Oops! I meant that it may be impossible to redistribute such free software in/from the United States without permission from the US government.

But Everybody is having these restrictions!

Yes, but they take care of them in some other manner. Instead of requiring Turkish citizens to not redistribute the software to Iranians, they may simply warn US citizens that they may have some restrictions in redistributing the software to Iranians.