Submitting GPLv3 and LGPLv3 for OSI inclusion.

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at
Fri Jul 6 02:32:01 UTC 2007

Nils Labugt wrote:
> What about political (or religious) statements in a license as a form of
> discrimination?

A mere non-binding political statement can not violate OSD #6

 I think most will agree that terms like "this license is
> granted to you only if you are a communist" or "you must agree with the
> following communist teachings" would discriminate

You may know this, but I want to be clear; this is a false analogy.  The
GPL doesn't say anything like, "This license is granted to you only if
you hate software patents and love free software", even in the preamble.

, but what about a license that contains a lengthy preamble
incorporating The Communist
> Manifesto? I would certainly refuse to click on an "I agree" button
> after reading such a license, nor would I feel free to distribute my
> code under it, and I would thus feel discriminated against (not
> necessarily in a political sense, but in the sense of OSD #5).

This would not violate OSD #5 or 6, since the preamble is not legally
binding.  IANAL, but I think at most the preamble could inform
interpretation of the terms of the license.  But since the statement
about Communism isn't related to actual terms, I don't think it would be
used in interpretation.

> I realize that a statement like "States should not allow patents to
> restrict development and use of software on general-purpose
> computers..." in the GPLv3 preamble might seem like more of a truism to
> the great majority of (non-corporate) contributors to open source
> projects

And to most corporations (even ones that don't support open source!),
even if they can't talk about it as much.

> If a political statement about software patents is
> accepted, on what grounds could a statement about Guantanamo Bay be
> rejected?

It couldn't, at least not on pure OSD grounds.  The preamble could say
"Allahu Akbar!  We should destroy the Great Satan" and there still
wouldn't be a real OSD violation.  All of these statements are of course
bad ideas, because they make people uncomfortable and are not relevant
to the license; however, they're not OSD violations.

 If the purpose of the preamble merely is to serve as a
> guidance for the interpretation of the license, rather than serving as a
> soapbox for FSF's political opinions, then it could have been formulated
> without including (explicit) political points of view.

The primary purpose of the GPL preamble is indeed to be a soapbox,
albeit a soapbox that should help explain the license.

Matt Flaschen

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