GPL and LGPL question

Seth David Schoen schoen at
Tue May 18 21:47:20 UTC 1999

Pat St. Jean writes:

> Hi everyone,
>   I don't want to start a flame war, so if it's addressed elsewhere,
> please direct me there.
>   I'm wondering how the GPL and LGPL can be reconciled with part 9 of the
> open source definition.  I don't see how they can.

I think the situation addressed by OSD 9 is what the GPL refers to as "mere
aggregation".  Derived works are not obviously "other software that is
distributed along with the licensed software".

>   Also, how does OSD part 3 protect the author of the code from what I
> think (and this IS just MY _OPINION_) are malicious clauses in other
> licenses, specifically the LGPL, clause 3.

OSD 3 says that an Open Source license "must allow" code to be redistributed
under the same terms, but not that such a license "must require" code to be
redistributed that way.  The LGPL _allows_ code to be redistributed under the
same terms, but does not _require_ it.

This feature is shared by source code in the public domain, which may be
redistributed under the same terms, but which may also be redistributed
under other terms.  The OSD's position is that a license may or may not
require distribution under the same terms, but must permit it.

> A case can also be made that
> LGPL clause 3 is in conflict with OSD part 7, depending on which legal
> dictionary you're reading.

I agree, because of the paragraph that says

	Once this change is made in a given copy, it is irreversible for
	that copy, so the ordinary GNU General Public License applies to all
	subsequent copies and derivative works made from that copy.

This allows for some situations which do appear to violate OSD 7.

If OSD 7 is referring to all of the rights conveyed by a particular Open
Source license (which it seems to), this interpretation is definitely
correct.  If it's referring only to the rights guaranteed by the OSD, then
LGPL 3 is still OK under the OSD because none of _those_ particular rights
are ever denied by a user opting under LGPL 3 to put one copy of the program
under the GPL.

                    Seth David Schoen <schoen at>
      They said look at the light we're giving you,  /  And the darkness
      that we're saving you from.   -- Dar Williams, "The Great Unknown"  (personal)  (CAF)

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