Brian Behlendorf brian at
Wed Apr 13 23:09:04 UTC 2005

On Wed, 13 Apr 2005, Joel West wrote:
> So a license that enables and allows forking is good? I thought that was 
> the whole point of the GPL, to prevent forking.

No, it's not.  Perhaps to prevent proprietary forking, but GPL forks are 

> Well and that's the deal. The GPL allows several different companies to 
> be in the Linux business. A dual license GPL only allows one company to 
> be fully in, say, the MySQL business.

No, it doesn't.  Any company can provide commercial support, consulting, 
or custom development for MySQL.  Only one company can grant you a 
different license to it.  But I would be surprised if even a majority of 
the dollars that come to MySQL are for the commercial license for 
situations where the GPL would not work.  Most people, would be my guess, 
pay MySQL for support services.

The copyright holder always has an asymmetric relationship to the 
licensees.  This is the point I was trying to make.  So far the Open 
Source community has weathered this asymmetry fine, and are perfectly 
happy to allow the ASF, the FSF, or other major copyright holders this 
luxury.  As we've seen, licenses like the NPL which establish some sort of 
tithe to an original contributor have failed.  But I don't see a need for 
some new rule or policy against this.

> An "asymmetric" CPL allows only the Eclipse Foundation to be in the 
> business of distributing Eclipse.

This is not true either.  Anyone can distribute Eclipse, or even a 
modified Eclipse, otherwise the CPL would not be an Open Source license.

> But an asymmetric CPL could also allow IBM to be the only firm in the 
> business of distributing a piece of software without the reciprocal 
> obligations.

Um, let's be very clear here.  The copyright holder (who is *not* IBM in 
the case of Eclipse) always has the rights to license their works under 
multiple licenses.  The CPL, like the MPL and CDDL, is weak-copyleft, 
allowing for combination with works under other licenses.  Your bugfix to 
Eclipse will need to be CPL, but your plug-in does not.


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