Cygwin license (GPL + exception) question

Andy Tai lichengtai at
Sun Sep 9 22:19:22 UTC 2001

The RedHat Cygwin (gnuwin-32) library is licensed
under the GNU GPL, with the exception (additional
permission) that it is ok to link Cygwin with any
software under a license that fits the Open Source
Definition, without the software forced to be under
the GPL.  This seems to be a very desirable way to
solve the code sharing problem due in incompatible

However, if a case rises that someone links Cygwin
with software under a license that he claims is Open
Source, and others think it is not, so there is a
lawsuit, how can this be resolved?  Can the OSI be
counted to provide support for proving the license is
not Open Source? Or the OSI does not have the resource
to get involved in this case where OSI is just a third
party? Or will the court refuse to even recognize the
OSI has such power? After all, the Open Source
definition is not a legal document.

The same question can be asked if the exception is to
allow linking to software that fits the Debian Free
Software Guidelines, or to allow linking to software
that is Free as defined by the Free Software
Foundation.  Both the Debian Project and the FSF may
not have the will or the resource or the legal
standing to get involved.

Andy Tai, atai at, +1 408 943 0287, +1 408 393 6370

Dept of ECE, UC San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0407, USA
atai at

Free Software: the software by the people, of the people and for the people! Develop! Share! Enhance! Enjoy!

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