Combining GPL and non-GPL code

Walter van Holst w.van.holst at
Thu Aug 2 17:02:44 UTC 2007

> -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
> Van: David Woolley [mailto:forums at]
> Verzonden: donderdag 2 augustus 2007 8:57
> Aan: license-discuss at
> Onderwerp: Re: Combining GPL and non-GPL code

> That conflicts with a basic concept in the GPL, the "public".
>  The concept is that indirect recipients also receive a valid
> licence.  There may be belt and braces wording, but,
> basically the theory is that the GPL is a bare licence, not a
> contract, so doesn't require offer and acceptance at each step.

That is a lovely notion and I'd like to agree with you here. I've even defended this notion in a peer reviewed journal, but I have seen the error of my ways. As long as the GPL requires the end-user to surrender its rights to compensation for damages caused by the software and not to expect any warranty or guarantee for the software to actually do something useful, it cannot be a unilateral 'licence'. By its very nature it becomes a multilateral set of obligations. No matter how much you will be laughed out of court in practice when you start suing for damages caused by gratis software, the fact that it expects you to surrender your right for compensation makes it a contract and not a unilateral licence.

At least in the Netherlands and I daresay the rest of continental Europe this theory does not apply.



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