compatibility Re: License committee report for January 2008

Ernest Prabhakar ernest.prabhakar at
Mon Jan 28 20:33:08 UTC 2008

Hi Alexander,

> Really? And that would mean what, exactly?

The short answer is that we all would like to see the fewest number of  
incompatible licenses in the world.  The GPL/LGPL's incompatibility  
with certain other licenses is accepted as a "fact of life" by most  
open source developers, but that's no reason to encourage/enable  
additional incompatibilities.

Beyond, I'm afraid I've completely lost track of the argument.  It  
would help if you could reframe your concern in the form of a Q & A,  
so we can document any discussion in the FAQ.

-- Ernie P.

On Jan 28, 2008, at 12:05 PM, Alexander Terekhov wrote:

> On Jan 28, 2008 8:17 PM, Ernest Prabhakar  
> <ernest.prabhakar at> wrote:
>> Hi Alexander,
>> Not sure what your point is.  The FSF -- like the OSI -- discourage
>> incompatibility, and work hard to minimize it.  That is very  
>> different
>> than mandating it.  In fact, given our anti-proliferation policy, we
>> might actually take a harder line about incompatibility than they do.
> Really? And that would mean what, exactly? Note that according to the
> FSF President "compatibility" actually means "relicencing" under the
> "The idea is that there are some other Free Software licences which
> are compatible with the GPL meaning that if a program is released
> under one of those licences, that licence gives, effectively,
> permission to relicence under the GPL. There are two ways that can
> happen. Some licences explicitly say "you can also use this program
> under the GNU GPL". In other cases, it's because the licence is so
> permissive that to relicence it under the GNU GPL is permitted."
> "I don't think it is wrong in general to relicense code from BSD to  
> GPL."
> See also:
> from his reply to me and a bunch of others (he CCed it to openbsd-misc
> but it arrived there after they've banned him and so it didn't show up
> in archives):
> -----
>   This may be *your* "usual interpretation of the revised BSD license"
> Eben Moglen says that it is nearly universal among lawyers.
> As this is a legal issue, I have confidence in him.
> -----
> So what does "compatibility" regarding licenses mean (translated from
> OSI-speak)?
> regards,
> alexander.
> --
> "Because of their informal and diffuse nature, open source groups are
> vulnerable to theft of their intellectual property. That theft, in the
> form of copyright infringement, happened in this case, and Jacobsen
> sought a preliminary injunction to enjoin Katzer and KAMIND's
> infringement."

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