BSD / GPL compatibility - Infection by "Libraries"

John Cowan jcowan at
Wed Feb 16 22:20:26 UTC 2000

"Dennis E. Hamilton" wrote:

> Based on my readings of discussions on the question of infection by
> binding, no one knows for sure.  It is all speculation about libraries,
> linking, binding, run-time coordinated use, etc., etc.  There has been no
> test in court.


> I have come to favor the MIT-style licenses that go no farther
> about derivative works than the OSD requires.  I want people to know they
> can safely use the software/code and I want them to feel welcome and valued
> in contributing back, but not compelled to do so.

I think this view is perfectly defensible.

IMHO the case for the GPL is this, stripped to essentials:

When you lose interest in your project and stop maintaining it,
are your users prepared to (perhaps) have to purchase closed-source
upgrades from Borg, Inc., rather than being sure that such upgrades
(if they exist at all) will be freely available?

> When I did that little analysis about the Angels, Borg, Inc., and Cavaliers
> last night, I did make myself a little queasy over the appearance of
> infringement when extending/maintaining my work makes changes that someone
> else has also arrived at in a GPL's derivative.  (I am safer with regard to
> the closed-source Borg case so long as I had no way to see their source.)

Don't read the Cavaliers' code, then.

> [...] whether commercially or otherwise [...]

Just as a matter of terminology, implicitly identifying "commercial"
with "closed-source" is fast becoming a bad assumption.  Commercial
vs. non-commercial is now orthogonal to open-source vs. closed-source.


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)

More information about the License-discuss mailing list