conducting a sane and efficient GPLv3, LGPLv3 Review

Ben Tilly btilly at
Thu Aug 2 18:29:56 UTC 2007

On 8/2/07, Alexander Terekhov <alexander.terekhov at> wrote:
> On 8/2/07, Zak Greant <zak at> wrote:
> Hey Zak, are you still at MySQL?
> I'm asking because MySQL must be truly excited regarding Seventh
> Circuit's interpretation of the GPL...
> ------
> Before EASTERBROOK, KANNE, and EVANS, Circuit Judges.
> EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judge. Does the provision of copyrighted software
> under the GNU General Public License ("GPL") violate the federal
> antitrust laws? Authors who distribute their works under this license,
> devised by the Free Software Foundation, Inc., authorize not only
> copying but also the creation of derivative works—and the license
> prohibits charging for the derivative work. People may make and

Easterbrook is wrong on a basic point of fact.  The license does not
prohibit charging for the derivative work, and many people have
charged for such derivative works.  Not the least of these being the
Free Software Foundation itself.

Which raises an interesting question.  Suppose that I was a judge in
the 7th circuit.  Am I bound by this part of the opinion even though
it depends on an incorrect understanding of the facts?

(I'll note that the rest of the opinion upheld the GPL as being safe
from anti-trust challenges.  Which is the opposite of what you'd like
to see.)

> (It was real fun to watch groklaw crowd loudly complaining about
> "Horrible interpretation of the GPL" by EASTERBROOK.)

Well of course they would complain about him having such a common
misunderstanding of what the GPL says.  It is an elementary mistake
that many make, and I blame the lawyers for not having done a better
job in bringing the true facts to bear.


More information about the License-discuss mailing list