BSD / GPL compatibility

Ian Grigg iang at
Tue Feb 15 21:24:55 UTC 2000

> > Does the BSD licence give a user the right to distribute covered
> > code under the GPL?...
>         It's all a matter of derived work.  Some may say that using
> chunks of BSD code in a GPLed work is "fair use".

OK, so does the same apply in reverse?  I guess it does, so
I can take any part of a GPLed work and shove it into my code
and distrubute it as BSD.

If that's the case - I can use "fair use" on GPL, then what
are the limitations or paramaters?  The old rule was something
like a chapter / 10% for copying, and brief snippets for distribution?

Actually I'm skeptical.  Software is not published in the
literary sense, it is licensed, and is thus available under
the law of contract, not the law of copyright.

> Some say that the
> BSD license doesn't put any restrictions on derived work

   Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, ...
   are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

      Redistributions of {source|binary} code must retain
      the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and ...

I would interpret this as "you must include this licence."
If that is excepted, I think it is fairly clear that you
have no permission to distribute under any other licence.
Of course, a court or lawyer may disagree, and I'd be interested
to hear what interpretations there are.

> (including
> RMS, whom I asked this very question when I was thinking of using
> GNU readline to enhance a BSD app).

RMS has a peculiarly one-sided view of what other people's
contracts mean;  I think you would be taking your legal life
in your hands to trust his judgement on a question that effects
the GPL.  Not that I'd advise you to ask me either....


More information about the License-discuss mailing list