Use of GPL without any intention to enforce

Ben Tilly ben_tilly at
Mon Feb 12 23:40:39 UTC 2001

"Carter Bullard" <carter at> wrote:
>Gentle people,
>Is there any advantage to releasing software under GPL if you
>have no intention of ever enforcing the license?

People know what the GPL is, and you can borrow
from other GPLed projects.

>GPL projects seem to require some form of licensing in order
>for connected software to be compatible, which I interpret
>to mean connectable, bundle able, redistributable.  Since most
>projects are collections of packages, many of which are GPL'd,
>it seems that licensing under a GPL like license would be a
>reasonable thing, regardless of your interest in copyleft or
>not, even when you have no intention of ever enforcing a license
>of any kind.

The GPL is designed to encourage that.

>Would it be reasonable to make the claim that there is no
>intention to enforce a license in the license itself?

IANAL, but the way I have usually seen this done is that
someone will release code with a copyright saying that, "My
code is under (generous license X) however it contains
(FileA, FileB) which are under different licenses."  Here
the generous license X would be something like a dual GPL
with something else, or a BSD.

Now the whole package is available under the GPL, but you
have made it utterly clear that you will not enforce the
GPL, and you have also made it clear how much of the
package may be used without fear of encountering problems
from the GPL.

Of course saying, "This is GPLed" and leaving it at that
is a lot easier.  Indeed tracking copyrights in this way
seems to be an intermediary step where you initially used
GPLed libraries because they are convenient but plan to
someday release the whole thing under a different license.

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