apache license 2.0 for consideration

Roy T. Fielding fielding at apache.org
Thu Feb 19 23:31:02 UTC 2004

> I think you're using the term "non-free" to mean two different things 
> in
> two different sentences.


> Let me reword:  :-)
> | The GPL prohibits distribution of a work that is
> | covered by patents not distributable under GPL terms.  The Apache
> | License says that any patent
> | licenses granted to you by virtue of it being contributed to Apache
> | go away if you claim there exists a patent in the work that's not
> | distributable under Apache license terms.
> If "patents not distributable under GPL terms" == "patents not
> distributable under Apache license terms", then I would agree that the
> Apache license doesn't add a restriction not already in the GPL.

Try "software not distributable under GPL terms".  Talking about
distributing the patent doesn't make any sense, which is why you
are getting confused over the permissions.

> However, I claim that if there exist Apache-licensed patents that are
> not also GPL-licensed, then the Apache license is not universally
> GPL-compatible.

No, that is reversed logic.  If there exist GPL-licensed software that
would somehow be restricted by the Apache License restrictions, then
they would not be compatible.  I don't think it is reasonable to invent
new definitions of compatibility.

> I also claim that since the Apache license can retract
> Apache-patent-licenses for people making patent infringement claims,
> that that retraction would have to apply to people using Apache->GPL'd
> code.
> Then, since the retraction applies to someone using GPL'd code, it
> breaks GPL licensing for everyone using that GPL'd code.

As it would if the code was entirely GPL'd.  The GPL says that you
cannot redistribute software that is covered by a patent wherein
the patent is not licensed free for everyone.  The Apache License
says that if you claim the Apache software contains something that
is not licensed free for everyone (i.e., specifically, you accuse
someone of infringing your patent which implies that your patent
is not free for everyone), then you can't use the Apache License
as a defense against your own infringements.  In contrast, the GPL
says you cannot redistribute the software at all.  Therefore, the
Apache License is less restrictive than the GPL.  Furthermore,
since the Apache License's patent grant does not apply to the
GPL'd code in any way (only the Work which is licensed under the
Apache License) and has no impact on distribution whatsoever,
whether or not such licenses disappear has no influence on the code
covered by the GPL.

>> In other words, any GPL code that is combined with Apache License code
>> remains under the GPL, which is the sole requirement for 
>> compatibility.
> If someone can pull back a patent license via the Apache license
> "through" an Apache->GPL'd work, then..it looks to me like Apache
> requirements are still holding, and that the work is not just limited 
> by
> GPL requirements.

GPL is a copyright license.  It cannot prevent the possibility of
a patent, and does not try to.  It merely states that, if a patent
is being enforced, then the code cannot be distributed as GPL.
That is true regardless of what license covers the original code
that was later combined with the GPL work.

The Apache License does not state, or even imply, that a
non-GPL-compliant patent exists on the code.  Nor does a GPL
Derived Work have to be free of any patents (such is impossible if
you look at what has been patented in the US); it merely has to be free
of patents that restrict distribution to anything other than GPL terms.
If such a patent exists, the GPL's own restrictions override any
patent license granted by the Apache License -- whether or not you
are the one suing someone is not relevant to the GPL.


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