GPLv3, LGPLv3 Review (WAS: License Committee Report for July 2007)

John Cowan cowan at
Wed Aug 1 02:12:18 UTC 2007

Wilson, Andrew scripsit:

> Perhaps a non-GPL example will help clarify.  As is well known,
> Mac OS X contains great gobs of BSD-licensed code which Apple 
> re-releases under their own proprietary license.

You mean the APSL?  Not a proprietary license, and IMHO Apple's right to
hike off the BSD license and put the APSL on the FreeBSD-derived code
instead is pretty shaky.

It's true that Apple uses the BSD-granted right to release some of that
code as proprietary binary bits; hopefully they obey the BSD license
and carry the license text along as well.  

> With BSD, anything that is not forbidden is allowed.  You may apply your
> own additional terms and conditions (e.g. relicense).   [...]
> Just as Apple may add their EULA on top of BSD, you or I or anyone else
> may add GPL on top of BSD-licensed code and distribute the result.

The GPL begins thus:

# 0. This License applies to any program or other work which contains
# a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it may be distributed
# under the terms of this General Public License.

"By the copyright holder".  You aren't the copyright holder.  You can
place such a notice, but I fail to see how it has any legal force at all.

The first thing you learn in a lawin' family    John Cowan
is that there ain't no definite answers         cowan at
to anything.  --Calpurnia in To Kill A Mockingbird

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