[Approval request] CMGPL licence

Karsten M. Self kmself at ix.netcom.com
Wed Nov 7 23:39:10 UTC 2001

on Wed, Nov 07, 2001 at 11:00:18PM +0100, Marcel van der Boom (marcel at hsdev.com) wrote:
> Karsten,
> Thanks for your comments. This kind of reaction I was hoping for.
> > I have to ask *why* you are doing this.
> I'm exploring the possibilities to have the most efficient licensing on 
> our software.

Defining "efficient" would be helpful here.  "Shorter" isn't synonymous.

> > - The changes appear to be largely gratuitous, in particular the
> >   deletions from the preamble and appendix which don't effect the
> >   legal force of the license, but do effect compatibility with GPLd
> >   software.
> I do agree. Isn't that a bit strange? The legal "strength" of the
> document stays exactly the same but all of a sudden (except for the 3c
> deletion which is actually changing the terms) it creates incompatible
> products. I don't understand that. By not elaborating (preamble) and
> not referencing (the appendix) the new license creates an
> incompatibility??


I suggest you read the FSF's sections on philosophy and licensing,
specifically, Copyleft:


    To copyleft a program, we first state that it is copyrighted; then
    we add distribution terms, which are a legal instrument that gives
    everyone the rights to use, modify, and redistribute the program's
    code or any program derived from it but only if the distribution
    terms are unchanged. Thus, the code and the freedoms become legally

The key is that the legal conditions attached to the code remain
unchanged.  The GPL allows a tremendous amount of freedom with regard to
code use, distribution, and modification, but only so long as the rules
associated with doing so remain unchanged.  Liberty and rigidity are
oddly intertwined in this respect.


> > - The GNU GPL and LGPL (which is convertible to GPL) cover about 85% of
> >   all free software.  I disagree strongly with your statement that
> >   they are not well understood, and in particular with your
> >   implication that your minority license would be more readily
> >   understood.  

Note:  please fix your attribution marks such that quoted lines are
clearly indicated.  I've added the additional '> ' in the above quoted

> I did not mean that. The only thing I meant to say was that the more 
> compact a license document is without losing strength or meaning, the 
> better. (which is still an opinion and I understand the motivation of 
> the FSF for the preamble)

You fail to understand the intent, purpose, and design of the GNU GPL
and the intent and mechanics of copyright.


> >- Above and beyond the GPL, licenses covering another 10-15% of free
> >  software are GPL compatible.  Your license would not be.  From a
> >  code transitivity standpoint, you're locking yourself *out* of a
> >  codebase shared among 95% of free software projects.  This loses a
> >  significant advantage of free software.
> Ok, this is the major problem I'm having.
> This would be very bad and I'm realizing this, but what I cannot 
> understand is why this would happen with such a minor change. 

Addressed above.

> How on earth can the GPL than be compatible with any other license at 
> all? Other licenses differ on more points than our proposal and jet some 
> of them are GPL compatible.

The GNU GPL requires that a license not impose terms additional to, nor
remove terms require by, the GNU GPL.

Compatible licensing is possible if license terms are consistent with
the GPL -- the (post 1999) BSD license, MIT and X licenses, are little
more than copyright statements, acceptable to the GPL, and the warranty
and liability disclaimers are similarly compatible.

The other tack is to utilize dual licensing.  In this situation, there
there may not be transitivity between licenses, but so long as coverage
is given under a set of licenses, the GPL's terms are met if the the
interpretation is that the terms are those of the GPL.  This is a
limited compatibility as, again, purely GPLd code would not be capable
of being incorporated into GPLd code.

In this sense, the GPL is something of a potential minimum -- many
licensing terms can migrate toward it, but few (none to my knowledge)
can evolve away from it.  For those whose primary interest is promotion
of free software, and recognizing the use of the GPL as a tool for doing
same, this is as it should be.  Others may differ.


Karsten M. Self <kmself at ix.netcom.com>       http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?             Home of the brave
  http://gestalt-system.sourceforge.net/                   Land of the free
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