License Approval Process

Dennis E. Hamilton infonuovo at
Wed Feb 16 05:54:45 UTC 2000

I think I understand how this works.  Let me check it with your thinking:

A.	The Angels group produces a software work, X, distributing it under an
OSD-consistent copyright license that permits derivative works and does not
require that they be distributed under the same license or even be licensed
at all.  There is no back-licensing requirement in the license that
accompanies copies of X.

B.	Borg, Inc., makes a derived work Y:X as a closed-source commercial
product.  They distribute the commercial product.  Distribution of Y
satisfies any other conditions that might govern the use of X and the Angels
license is satisfied.

C.	The Cavaliers create Z:X as an open-source derivative and Z is
distributed under the GPL.  Again, all conditions of the Angels license on X
are satisfied.

AB.	The Angels have nothing to say about Y.  Furthermore, absent a specific
separate agreement, the Angels have no right in Y different than anyone else
who legitimately possesses a copy of work Y.  In particular, they cannot do
anything with aspects of Y not in X that conflicts with the terms of any
copyright and licensing of Y.

AC.	The Angels also have nothing to say about Z.  Furthermore, absent a
specific separate agreement, the Angels have no right in Z different than
anyone else who possesses a copy of work Z.  In particular, they cannot do
anything with aspects of Z not in X that conflicts with the GPL.

AA.  The Angels right to make their own derivative works of X is diminished
to the extent that the Angels do not have an automatic license to take
additions and modifications from the derivative works produced by others.
The Angels can certainly make new, original derivative works of X, under
cover of the original license form.  In doing so, there needs to be care to
avoid infringing the intellectual property rights of Borg, Inc. and the
Cavaliers.  Such care to avoid infringement is always warranted, but it
would now seem somewhat easier for there to be an appearance of infringement
considering that all are building derivatives of X.

(AD. When the Dogmatics make a derivative work U:X, and license it in a way
that is consistent with the Angel license, there is no such problem.  The
Angels and the Dogmatics can mutually derive from each others stuff and it
all works.)

Interesting, huh?

Let's have "M admits-derivative N" represent that license N is automatically
admissible on derivatives of works for which license M is automatically

Then  MIT admits-derivative GPL
	MIT admits-derivative MIT
	MIT admits-derivative closed
	GPL admits-derivative x if-and-only-if x = GPL

where closed is an exit state [the chain is ended], and GPL is clearly a
steady state [the chain is trapped].  I suppose this illustrates what is
meant by the viral nature of GPL.  For me, it also illustrates the
cooperative nature of the MIT license and all of those, x, for which MIT
admits-derivative x is a symmetrical relationship.  Relation
admits-derivative is transitive; it is neither reflexive nor symmetrical.

-- Dennis

Dennis E. Hamilton
mailto:infonuovo at
tel. +1-206-779-9430 (gsm)
fax. +1-425-793-0283

-----Original Message-----
From: cowan at
[mailto:cowan at]On Behalf Of John Cowan
Sent: Tuesday, February 15, 2000 13:06
To: license-discuss at
Subject: Re: License Approval Process

"Matthew C. Weigel" wrote:
> On Tue, 15 Feb 2000, John Cowan wrote:
> > The "new BSD" and the equivalent MIT license are compatible with the
> > GPL; the "old BSD" license with the advertising requirement is not.
> > In general, a license is compatible with the GPL if it imposes the
> > same, or fewer, restrictions than the GPL.
> Ummm... I don't think so.  For one, Nothing is commutatively compatible
> the GPL -- software can't be redistributed under different terms[1].
> if another license is as restrictive as the GPL, you probably can't
> it under different terms either, and thus you can't redistribute under the
> GPL.

Oh, you are talking about relicensing.  I was using "compatibility"
in the sense of distributing a derived work parts of which are under
two different licenses.  Thus, no derived work can be partly under the
GPL and partly under the MPL (or at least you can make such a thing,
but not distribute it): thus GPL and MPL are incompatible.  Not so
GPL and MIT/new BSD.


Schlingt dreifach einen Kreis vom dies! || John Cowan
<jcowan at>
Schliesst euer Aug vor heiliger Schau,  ||
Denn er genoss vom Honig-Tau,           ||
Und trank die Milch vom Paradies.            -- Coleridge (tr. Politzer)

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