GPL for JS libraries (Was: Re: Redefining GPL?)

Philippe Verdy verdy_p at
Sat Dec 2 12:36:24 UTC 2006

From: "Matthew Flaschen" <matthew.flaschen at>
> Philippe Verdy wrote:
> > you may add clauses if they conform to the GPL requirements, otherwise
> the non-conforming clauses require that you rename the licence, and the
> exact form does not matter).
> Actually any modification of the GPL itself requires the removal of the
> preamble, unless the FSF grants specific written permission.

A change of technical form that does not change any term is not changing the GPL itself. So you can include the GPL as an HTML file if you like, or as a Word or OpenOffice document, or as an embedded resource shown within a program, it is still the original GPL.

This is also true if the text file is reencoded to a different character set (for example when you need to reencode it to a charset that does not completely supports ASCII, or that maps it to other positions, such as some EBCDIC charset).

What is not the GPL is its translation (which may be provided as an additional preamble to the original English text, or as a separate document, provided that it unambiguously states that the translation has no legal status, and that the original English text is also provided), or changes of any its English terms: each of its printable characters of the original English text must be present in the same order, and the paragraphs must not be splitted, joined or reordered.

The preamble is not part of the licencing terms, as well as the subsidiary (informative only) section "How to apply..." which may be removed (it is not part of the GPL terms (which are clearly marked with a "end of terms" banner). But the copyright for the GPL text itself must be kept, even if you change the preamble or the subsidiary section.

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