License Committee Report for July 2007

Michael Poole mdpoole at
Wed Aug 1 04:13:53 UTC 2007

Brendan Scott writes:

> The wording each license uses is different, so this is not obvious to me (eg: the GPL refers to "copying, distribution and modification" as well as "running" the program.  The BSD talks about use and redistribution and (implicitly) modification). 
> Can you explain why you think the BSD permissions are (at least) a superset of those in the GPL? 

In short, plain reading and the common understanding of the two.

Redistribution includes copying and distribution.  "Use", when it
comes to a program, includes running it.  The BSD license permits
"[r]edistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
modification" if the copyright, license and disclaimer notices are

The GPLv2 license says (in section 0) that it does not restrict
running of the program.  Section 1 allows distribution of unmodified
source forms, if the copyright, disclaimer and license notices are
preserved.  Section 2 allows distribution of modified source forms,
subject to certain copyleft restrictions (plus those of section 1).
Section 3 allows distribution of binary forms, with or without
modification, subject to further copyleft restrictions (plus those of
sections 1 and 2).  Each of those sections are at least as strict, and
in no case broader, than the BSD license.  Sections 4 through 12 do
not grant permissions.

Also, GPLv2's section 6 amplifies that the license to exercise
copyright-reserved rights comes from the original licensor (rather
than from the redistributor).  This is consistent with the idea that
the original license still attaches to the code.

Michael Poole

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