Combining GPL and non-GPL code

Wilson, Andrew andrew.wilson at
Fri Aug 17 23:45:47 UTC 2007


Chris Travers wrote:

> First I appologize to Andrew Wilson for not attributing his comments 
> when quoting them.


> I don't read the GPL as requiring that an author relicense BSDL 
> code under the GPL as a condition for including it.

Please re-read GPLv2 sec. 2 para (b) on the license which
must apply to a derivative work of GPL code, if that derivative
is to be distributed.

Note this is not a "Schrodinger's cat" scenario (speaking
of concepts that are hard to get your mind around).  If I have
included a copy of BSD source in GPL source and have relicensed (or, per
Chuck, sublicensed) it under GPL as a derivative work, then
nothing at all has happened to change the state of other
copies of the original BSD work.  They are still BSD.  There has been
no paradoxical "action at a distance" to their license, and anyone who
find a copy of the original code may use it under BSD.

Once you get your mind around the necessity to relicense
(or sublicense) GPL derivatives as GPL, it makes other
questions more decidable.  For example, the NDIS driver wrapper
scenario you raised: you may combine that binary NDIS driver
with GPL code as long as you do not distribute the combination.
To distribute it, sec-2-para-b says you must relicense the whole
as GPL.  Since you do not have rights to relicense the binary, 
there is a conflict of licenses and you cannot distribute
the combination.

IANAL, TINLA, your mileage may vary, apply directly to the forehead, &

Andy Wilson
Intel open source technology center

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