[License-discuss] GPL linking exceptions

Bruce Perens bruce at perens.com
Thu Jul 5 23:04:59 UTC 2012

There are really two sides to this problem. Is your license still OSI 
certified, and can you do this legally.

Regarding the OSI certification, the question is whether all of the 
rights granted by the certified license still apply. If this is the 
case, you can still say that the work is under the certified license.

None of the requirements of the Open Source Definition require that the 
license make restrictions, so removing a restriction would not in 
general cause a license to no longer be Open Source.

Then, the legal side. Of course, discuss this with your lawyer:

1. Make very sure you own the entire thing, or at least rights to 
relicense all of the covered code.
2. Given #1, you have the right to apply any number of licenses, 
including removal of restrictions.
3. Make sure that all changes you accept are either under the license 
exception as you specify it, or have the copyright or the right to 
relicense transferred to you.

Make sure that the way you communicate your removal of a restriction 
makes clear that the restriction is removed only regarding your own 
property. The GNAT modified GPL does this with the statement: /This 
exception does not however invalidate any other reasons why the 
executable file might be covered by the GNU Public License.

/    Thanks

  On 07/02/2012 09:48 AM, Felix Krause wrote:
> Hi everyone,
> does a linking exception to the GPL require approval, or may a software be called open source whenever it is licensed under the GPL, even when the publisher grants the user additional rights?
> There are some licenses around that add a linking exception to the GPL. The one I use is the GNAT Modified GPL [1]; but there are also others like the exception in the license of the GNU Classpath project [2]. Both licenses are not mentioned on the OSI site.
> I think the core question is, does adding a linking exception to the GPL create a completely new license (which would need approval as open source license), or does it still count as licensed under the GPL and thus open source?
> I think it would be a good thing if this question was answered by the FAQ.
> Cheers,
> Felix
> [1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAT_Modified_General_Public_License
> [2]: http://www.gnu.org/software/classpath/license.html
> _______________________________________________
> License-discuss mailing list
> License-discuss at opensource.org
> http://projects.opensource.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/license-discuss

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