Defenestrating the GPL

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at
Wed Dec 1 17:21:06 UTC 2010

Dear all,

After reading Nigel Tzeng's private email to me (which he permits me to copy
below), and as a member of Apache Software Foundation and as an attorney, I
feel I again need to explain my motivations for criticizing the FSF's
interpretation of its own GPL license.

Here is a published statement about the effect on Apache of the
incompatibility created by the FSF interpretation of the GPL: 

I hope someday to resolve that incompatibility. To do so, we need the FSF to
relax its attempts to prohibit *combinations* of Apache-licensed and
GPL-licensed works. That will make the enormous commons of GPL software
available to Apache projects -- an obvious blessing for all. All the stands
in the way is a failure by FSF to clearly distinguish between combinations
and derivative works.


P.S. Defenestration as a political act need not result in death; it depends
on the height of the window. See also "Historically, the word
defenestration was used to refer to an act of political dissent. Notably,
the Defenestrations of Prague in 1419 and 1618 helped to trigger prolonged
conflict within Bohemia and beyond. It is said that some Catholics ascribed
the survival of those defenestrated at Prague Castle in 1618 to divine

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Tzeng, Nigel H. [mailto:Nigel.Tzeng at]
> Sent: Wednesday, December 01, 2010 7:16 AM
> To: Lawrence Rosen
> Subject: Re: MPL 2 section 11
> Not cc'd to the mailing list...but you can repost it if you like.
> On 11/30/10 7:46 PM, "Lawrence Rosen" <lrosen at> wrote:
> > I would prefer that folks not twist my words to make other arguments
> or draw
> > extraneous conclusions.
> My apologies if that is directed at me.
> > I have no intention to be the Grinch that stole Christmas or the "bad
> boy
> > who killed the GPL."
> ...
> > As to my original comment about MPL section 11 and the GPL FAQ that
> the word
> > "combinations" goes way too far: If that proves true when/if tested
> in
> > court, the most that will happen is that the GPL will have a
> different
> > interpretation. That won't be the end. It will merely mean that the
> world
> > can combine GPL code with other code through linking without worrying
> about
> > being infected. Just like they can with MPL 2 code!
> This is somewhat disingenuous. If your interpretation is correct then
> the
> concept of strong copyleft is significantly changed...and in the eyes
> of
> some that would be "killing GPL" whether or not the license itself
> continues
> to exist and be used.
> I can understand why you would not wish to make this point blatantly
> but
> still..
> Regards,
> Nigel

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