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Re: License Conflict in slmodem-2.9.5

Ben Reser <ben@reser.org> writes:

> On Fri, Jan 30, 2004 at 01:07:28AM -0500, Brian Thomas Sniffen wrote:
>> Ben Reser <ben@reser.org> writes:
>> > The inclusion of the GPL licensed file triggers the requirements of
>> > section 2b of the GPL, which requires that the entire work be GPL'd.
>> This is not *quite* true.  It requires that the combined work be
>> distributed under the terms of the GPL, which introduces another
>> option for them.
> Well I was talking about binary distribution.  I guess I should have
> been more explicit.  But a binary distribution causes a combined work to
> be made and due to the inclusion of the GPL licensed source forces the
> entire combined work to be GPL licensed.

No, it doesn't.  A binary distribution must be under the terms of the
GPL, not licensed directly with the GPL.  For example, it is legal for
me to link an X11-licensed work against a GPL-licensed work and
distribute the combination under the X11 license.  The GPL'd component
stays under the GPL, but the X11'd work and my combination are under
the X11 license.  Since the combined work must be distributed under
the terms of the GPL, I must include source for everything (or follow
one of the other alternatives in the GPL) when I distribute it.
Somebody else is welcome to take just the X11 part and use that in
proprietary software, though.

>> > Solutions to the problem are as follows:
>> >
>> > 1) License all files under the GPL and include source for the two object
>> > files.
>> Simply providing the source for the two object files would be
>> sufficient to comply with the GPL.  That's what GPL-compatible means.
>> This is the other option I mentioned: they need change no licenses,
>> merely include the source code.
> True.  That is another potential option, I just forgot to mention it.  I
> was thinking there were more than 2 but when I wrote the email couldn't
> remember the other one(s).
>> > 2) Change the license on modem_at.c.  How you do this depends upon to
>> > what degree you own the copyright to this code.
>> >
>> >   a) You have complete copyright to the code and remove the GPL license
>> >      replacing it with your existing license.  Alternatively, you could
>> >      dual license (i.e. say you can use either your license or the GPL).
>> >      Both of these are essentially the same as your license is GPL
>> >      compatible anyway.
>> No.  One of these is a copyleft, the other is not.
> I think you're splitting hairs here.  I meant essentially the same in
> regards to resolving the problem.  Obviously they are different
> licenses with different conditions.  

I am drawing a very fine distinction, which in practice has no use.
But I'm not trying to waste your time -- given the unnecessarily
controversial nature of the GPL in some communities, I think it's very
import for Free Software's reputation that we are all scrupulously,
painfully honest when encouraging others to Freely license their

Speaking of which, thanks for talking to the upstream authors about
this.  Any positive feedback yet?


> In this case anyone can modify and relicense the code provided they
> maintain the copyright notice and disclaimers.  So unless they change
> the license not to permit such an act, it's essentially duel licensed
> whether they directly say it is or not.
> By definition it would not be GPL compatable if this were not true.

Brian Sniffen                                       bts@alum.mit.edu

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