For Approval: GPLv3

Donovan Hawkins hawkins at
Sun Aug 26 15:16:59 UTC 2007

I was about halfway through replying when I finally saw what I think is 
the main point of confusion, Chris.

A copy of the BSDL included when licensing under GPL v3 (as required by 
the BSDL) is not merely an "Additional Permission", it is also an 
"Appropriate Legal Notice". Nothing in GPL v3 allows you to remove that.

So how do I display the Appropriate Legal Notice without also granting it 
as an Additional Permission? For starters, I could write this:

"This program uses code originally licensed under BSDL, and is therefore 
required to reproduce the following text. In no way does the inclusion of 
this text grant you additional rights from the developers of this program, 
though it may inform you of additional restrictions that apply to you. 
Please consult with a lawyer if you have any questions about how this text 
affects you:"

Many closed-source programs include text similar to this, though few are 
so explicit. Most do say "Here's the text we are forced to show you" or 
something to that affect, so I doubt anyone can infer any rights being 

More below on your other points.

On Sat, 25 Aug 2007, Chris Travers wrote:

> First, I hate to say it but I think that the only reason why this license is 
> as well received as it is has to do with the organizations pushing it.  If 
> Microsoft submitted it....  Well, I wouldn't want to be here ;-)

Microsoft's MS-PL is no different really, and the main complaint here has 
been in calling it "permissive". While there have been a few general 
"should we really do this?" objections, the answer has been a fairly 
consistent "yes". I suspect OSI will pass both MS-PL and GPL v3 in the 
end, and on their individual merits.

> Also under section 7, anyone who merely distributes the work (i.e. *holds no 
> copyright to any aspect of it*) may remove these additional permissions from 
> any component.  Presumably this means removing the BSDL conditions and 
> replacing them with a GPL reference, but this is not allowed under the BSDL. 
> Therefore they may be incompatible because the GPL may actually conflict with 
> the BSDL requirements....

Where do you get the idea that BSDL does not allow this? It says:

"Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without 
modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are 

Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, 
this list of conditions and the following disclaimer."

Modified and unmodified distribution are identical in terms of rights 
granted by the BSDL. I can unzip a BSDL project, replace the LICENSE.TXT 
with GPL v3 + a copy of BSDL notices, rezip it and upload it for the world 
to see. It's rude, but legal.

It's generally not a good idea for a license to distinguish between 
modified and unmodified versions. I believe the FSF has a FAQ on this 
point regarding GPL, pointing out that two successive modifications can 
easily reproduce the original program (I add a line of code, and you 
remove it). It is therefore not logically consistent for modified 
distribution to be granted MORE rights than unmodified (though granting 
less rights is possible, such as allowing only unmodified versions to 
retain the name of the program).

> The second issue is my real concern.  My reading of the additional 
> permissions clause is that linking exceptions can be *removed* by downstream 
> distributors without even touching my code.  This strikes me as overly 
> affecting other software (my complaint regarding the OSD), and possibly 
> copyright misuse as well.

YOU gave that right to me when you selected BSDL or GPL v3 as your 
license. GPL v3 didn't force it on you.

As I pointed out above, you would feel it's ok to remove additional 
permissions only if I made some changes to your code? Ok, so I add a large 
section of code, remove your linking exception, and release my version 
under GPL v3 with no additional permissions. Someone else comes along, 
removes my changes, and also releases under GPL v3. How is that better?

> I think that the GPL3 goes well beyond that by granting the right to 
> relicense to someone who does not create a derivative work.  The exact 
> requirements seem to conflict with the BSDL in terms of actually removing the 
> license.

No, that is perfectly in line with BSDL. If you don't like that, don't 
release under BSDL.

> Despite the fact that I expect to lose this one, I do expect to help build 
> awareness of what the GPLv3 really says.  Personally, however, I do not think 
> that this license meets the stated criteria.

Nothing wrong with informing the public (though this might not be the 
place for information that does not affect OSI approval). However, I think 
you are...bold, shall we challenge the GPL v3 on legal grounds 
given the misunderstandings that we've been discussing. Be careful that 
your information isn't really misinformation...there are plenty of other 
groups spreading FUD about open source and we really don't need to start 
generating our own.

Donovan Hawkins, PhD                 "The study of physics will always be
Software Engineer                     safer than biology, for while the
hawkins at                   hazards of physics drop off as 1/r^2,                biological ones grow exponentially."

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