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Re: Ironies abound (was Re: GPL v3 draft)

On 1/19/06, Glenn Maynard <glenn@zewt.org> wrote:
> compatible with itself

The GPL is incompatible with itself.


A recent press conference of the Free Software Foundation confirmed
the rumors that the GNU General Public License was found to be
incompatible with itself. This newly discovered fact may actually
cause a lot of disorder in the free software world in which most
programs and libraries are licensed under this license.

Richard Stallman, chairman of the FSF, called upon developers to
immediately exempt GPL-licensed software from the GPL, as far as
linking them with GPL programs is concerned. "We have already made
sure all GNU software and every other software that is licensed to
the Free Software Foundation would be ad-hoc compatible with itself.
However we need other developers to do the same for their software",
Stallman said.

Eben Moglen, the FSF's attorney outlined the subsequent steps that
his organization will take to overcome this crisis. The first step
would be releasing a Modified General Public License (or MGPL for
short) that will be compatible with the GPL and with itself as well
as with all other licenses that the GPL is already compatible with.
It will be labeled the GPL version 2.1, thus allowing developers to
convert their software to it. He noted that care would be taken to
make sure the upcoming GPL version 3.0 will be compatible with
itself, as well as the MGPL.

For the time being, though, there is an explosion of commentary,
confusion and otherwise bad temper about the newly formed situation.
Eric S. Raymond, the famous Open Source Guru notes: "This is one of
the greatest blows to the Open Source world, I have yet encountered.
I have already exempted all of my own software from the GPL in this
regard, but there is a lot of other software out there, and many of
its authors are not very communicative.

Bill Gates, Microsoft's co-founder, on the other hand, seems to
find the situation very amusing: "I said times and again, that
viral licenses such as the GPL are a bad idea, and many open-source
advocates disagreed. Now they see that even making sure one's
license is compatible with itself, is hard to do when you open that
can of worms."

The integrity of many software projects whose license is the GPL and
yet contain works licensed by several developers is in jeopardy. The
Linux kernel is a prominent example of such a case. In a post to its
mailing list, Linus Torvalds commented that, in their case, it was
not an issue. "My interpretation of the GPL is already quite unusual,
so I'll simply rule that I also interpret the GPL as compatible with



***) Posted by Shlomi Fish on Monday April 01

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