compatibility Re: License committee report for January 2008

Alexander Terekhov alexander.terekhov at
Mon Jan 28 20:50:43 UTC 2008

On Jan 28, 2008 9:33 PM, Ernest Prabhakar <ernest.prabhakar at> wrote:
> 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.

Q1) What does "compatibility" mean in the context of licensing?

A1) Well, in the GNU Republic, it means ability to "relicense" under
the GNU GPL. For example, the LGPL is "compatible" with the GNU GPL
thanks to its GPL relicensing clause:

Some common questions and answers in regards to licensing and patents

This FAQ is based on a a series of questions we asked the FSF in
regards to understanding how the GPL works and how patents affects the
GPL. These questions and answers are verified by the FSF lawyers,
which makes them the final interpretation on how the GPL and LGPL
interact with patents in our opinion. We paid the FSF to have them
provide us these answers. So these answers are verified correct by
people like FSF lawyer and law professor Eben Moglen.

Question: Can someone for example distribute

1. GStreamer, the LGPL library
2. Totem, a GPL playback application
3. The binary-only Sorenson decoder

together in one distribution/operating system ? If not, what needs to
be changed to make this possible ?

Answer: This would be a problem, because the GStreamer and Totem
licenses would forbid it. In order to link GStreamer to Totem, you
need to use section 3 of the LGPL to convert GStreamer to GPL. ...

Q2) Okay, but does it mean the same thing in the OSI land?

A2) It means a "fact of life" accepted by most open source developers,
but that's no reason to encourage/enable additional incompatibilities.

That's the FAQ judging from the conversation in this thread.
Corrections are welcome. ;-)


"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


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