License Proliferation

Russell Nelson nelson at
Tue Sep 6 21:09:27 UTC 2005

Mathew Seth Flaschen writes:
 > Russel originally said that the GPL splits the developer community
 > into two groups.  This is correct.  One group can use GPL
 > code(those who license their own code GPL) and one can not(everyone
 > else).  However, similar splits occur with most licenses except
 > weak, effectively public domain licenses(i.e BSD).  I certainly
 > don't have a problem with these splits in general, as they are an
 > intended product of the licenses.  Perhaps Russell does.  I can't
 > speak for him.
 > -Matt Flaschen

No, the GPL says "You can't add restrictions to GPL'ed software."
Thus, the GPL is tolerant of any license that doesn't say more than
the GPL.  Other licenses don't have this term, so you can combine
software under one license that only requires attribution and another
license that only disclaims warranty.

It's been a few weeks since I read every license, but I'll go out on a
limb and say that the GPL is the only license that tries to dictate
the terms of other applicable licenses.  I might be wrong; read them
yourself.  It only takes a day to read them all (if you can stand the

>From one perspective, the GPL is a strong tool to prevent license
proliferation.  You know that once you see the GPL, you can stop
looking for other license, because you know that there cannot be any
more restrictions.

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