License Proliferation

Ben Tilly btilly at
Mon Sep 5 05:42:37 UTC 2005

On 9/4/05, Russell Nelson <nelson at> wrote:
> Matthew Seth Flaschen writes:
>  > The GPL protects what the FSF has identified as the fundamental
>  > freedoms, namely
> None of which contradicts my point that the GPL splits the free
> software community into users of licenses compatible with the GPL, and
> users of licenses incompatible with the GPL.  If that's a bad thing
> for the free software community, then we are duty bound to say so.

I hate using the word "compatible" there.

One would think that "compatible" indicated a reciprocal relationship.
 It does not.  "GPL compatible" means that you can be incorporated
into GPLed software.  You generally can't incorporate GPLed software
into anything that isn't GPLed.  The limit of compatibility is a
one-directional relationship.

I'm not objecting to the GPL having these characteristics.  I
understand what it is designed to do, and some of the uses that others
make of its properties.  I merely object to using "compatible" to
describe such an obviously one-sided relationship.


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