Combining GPL and non-GPL code

Wilson, Andrew andrew.wilson at
Fri Aug 17 21:42:04 UTC 2007

Chris Travers wrote:

> "From a pragmatic point of view, although GPL requires you to mark

> code changes, in the real world this doesn't always happen.  The user
> who has received a copy of a derivative should see the original
> BSD copyrights intact in the sources, but he/she is probably
> to assume the original code is also intact."
> My reading of the GPL does not require a GPL project maintainer to
change files from
> BSD-licensed to GPL-licensed.  If the file has a BSD copyright/License
notice, I would 
> argue that it is BSD-licensed *regardless of* its place in a larger
GPL project.
> Similarly nothing in the GPL prevents an author from releasing half of
the code under
> other licenses provided that these licenses are compatible with the
> Hence it probably doesn't matter if the original code is intact if the
original license
> and copyright notice is.  By including that copyright notice  (even
for a stated part
> of the file), I would argue that the author has *granted you* all
relevant rights under
> the BSD license.
> "If the code does contain any modifications, if those modifications
are made to a 
> GPL'd derivative they are automatically GPL." 
> No.  If those modifications are derivative of code covered under the
GPL to which the
> author does not have rights to grant additional licenses, then they
must be released 
> under the same license.  

Several points.

1. You are quoting me without attribution, which I thank you not to do.

2. John Cowan and I, along with several other contributors, walked our
   through the question of which license applies to a program where GPL
   BSD code have been intermingled at the source level within a module
   (not at the multiple file or archive level).  After looking at some
length at
   the issue from a variety of different points of view, I think it is
   fair to say that John and I and the other contributors agreed
   the answer is "GPL."
   If you have a refutation of this carefully developed consensus answer
   based on a fact-based argument, please post it.  If you do not have a
   reasoned counter-argument, please refrain from posting.  "My reading
of GPL" 
   absent any citations to support your opinion is not a fact-based

3. The concept that the BSD copyright allows relicensing is one of the
more difficult
   points of open source licensing to get one's mind around.

Andy Wilson
Intel open source technology center

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