AW: For Approval: German Free Software License

Lasse Reichstein Nielsen atwork at
Wed Nov 24 15:49:20 UTC 2004

On Wed, 24 Nov 2004 16:16:09 +0100, Axel Metzger  
<metzger at> wrote:

> Russell Nelson wrote:

>> Yes!  We cannot approve the license with this term in it, since you
>> could take away someone's rights to redistribute the software.
> Even if a version number is inserted? I do not see the point. We already
> discussed that issue, please check my remarks in the messages 51 and 52  
> in this thread.

(I can't see any numbers on the mails I receive, so I'm guessing to what
messages you are referring to).

The problem, if I understand both sides correctly, is that the license
  (2) The license board of the German Free Software License may put
  into force binding new versions of this License inasmuch as this is
  required and reasonable. New versions of the License will be
  published on the Internet site <> with a unique
  version number.
is read as binding anyone who accepts GFSL v1 to the terms of GFSL v2
as soon as it is released. That is, releasing a version 2 will change the
license of all software covered by version 1 to version 2. The crux of
this reading is the word "binding".

If that reading is correct, using software released under the GFSL v1,
can suddently be in a position where they must stop using that software
because they don't agree with the new license. That risk is incompatible
with being OSL.

You are saying that version 2 will be as OSL-compatible as version 1, but
unless that promise is built into the GFSL, it doesn't make the GFSL itself
compatible - being OSL-compatible should not depend on the good-will of
an external board, no matter how sensible they probably are.

As an official OSL-compatible license, the license itself should
be usable by anyone for their own projects, and having the license change,
potentially dramatically (even if that is unlikely) is a problem.

It is quite possible that we are misreading the text, but that means that
it should be clarified.  :)

Lasse R. Nielsen - atwork at
  'Faith without judgement merely degrades the spirit divine'

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