[gnu.org #219101] Re: Compatibility between CC licenses and the GPL
OK, I didn't appreciate the context here. My assumption was the docs
and code were being merely aggregated. If you want to port stuff back
and forth, you will have to use compatible licenses. Generally, we
think this happens infrequently enough that it's not worth bothering
with. But we understand that debian-legal has different views.
It sounds like you have found a solution you're happy with. We do hope
one day to improve our documentation licensing so that it will be more
useful to more people, and this is a concern we'll keep in mind when we
On Fri, 2005-01-07 at 19:17 -0500, Mike Olson wrote:
> Thanks, Dan. I appreciate your following up. I'm including
> the Debian team on this email, in the hope that I can help
> to drive everyone to agreement on the point at last. I don't
> have an email address for Dave Turner, so would be grateful
> if you'd pass this along to him. I've included the licensing
> email alias at gnu.org, so perhaps that will be enough.
> Dan Frankowski wrote:
> > I don't know if you ever got your question about licensing answered, but
> > I emailed email@example.com because I had the same sorts of questions.
> > Dave Turner answered the same day (!), and basically said the same thing
> > as Andrea Glorioso: bundling GPL software and non-GPL (e.g., CC licensed
> > or whatever) non-software (e.g., documentation) is not a problem. A
> > direct quote:
> > 'Yep, Michael Olsen is clearly confused in that message. Merely
> > distributing CC-licensed documentation with GPL software is not a
> > problem -- there's no derivative work being created there. The GPL
> > permits this under the "mere aggregation" clause, and CC-SA under its
> > "Collective Work" clause.
> The issue was raised to us by members of the Debian legal
> mailing list. The Debian project generally takes a strict
> view of of the "freedom" requirements of the GPL. It's
> tremendously encouraging that the FSF is willing to make
> the statement that Dave Turner made to you. Nevertheless,
> any disagreement on the requirements of the GPL among the
> leaders of the big distros is a problem for Sleepycat;
> we need to be friendly with all of them.
> At that time, I approached Richard Stallman to ask him about
> compatibility of the various Creative Commons licenses with
> the GPL. Take this with a grain of salt -- I didn't ask Richard
> to review the text of the CC A-SA license, I merely named it
> and asked him about compatibility. He replied:
> I am pretty sure none of [the Commons licenses] is
> compatible with the GNU GPL. However, no reasonable
> free documentation license is compatible with the GNU GPL.
> The Creative Commons licenses are mainly meant for artistic
> works. They are fine for that, but when it comes to
> documentation, we recommend the GFDL.
> Richard's response suggested to me that the waters were deep
> enough that I would not be able to touch bottom unassisted,
> so after trying briefly to engage all of Debian, the FSF and
> the Commons in a discussion, I just climbed back in the boat
> and sailed home.
> To the extent that the FSF is willing and able to clarify
> the point on documentation with the Debian leadership,
> it will be a good service to people who want to make use
> of the Commons deed.
> Pragmatically, we solved the problem here by falling back
> to the Sleepycat public license for both our software and
> our docs. Both the FSF and the Debian leadership agree
> that our public license is compatible with the GPL, so
> this problem has gone away for Sleepycat.
> > Thus, sounds like you are free and clear.
> Well, I'm free and clear now because we switched from the
> CC license to our own license. Pragmatically, if I were
> you, I'd be encouraged, but not yet convinced, by Dave
> Turner's response. I believe the FSF speaks authoritatively
> on the meaning of the GPL, but I'll reiterate that the
> Debian leadership took a different view of the combination
> of docs under the CC A-SA and code under the GPL. If that
> remains true today, you've got a problem lurking out there.
GPL Compliance Engineer
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