Re: Artistic and LGPL compatibility in jar files
In message <[🔎] 06DB76B9-3D28-44AB-82C8-E23917BF3727@dalkescientific.com>,
Andrew Dalke <email@example.com> writes
On Dec 14, 2009, at 8:36 PM, Anthony W. Youngman wrote:
(And you might guess I read groklaw avidly, where there's a lot of
emphasis on getting things right.)
Sorry, but I don't know what groklaw is, at least, not enough to guess
about your interests in it. I'm contacting debian-legal because I don't
know enough about what the details are concerning a package where the
developers want it to be distributed as part of Debian.
It's a law site, where SCO Group's lawsuit against IBM, Novell and Linux
in general is getting thoroughly dissected. If you're not interested
then fair enough, but copyright and the GPL in particular are very
After all, rms isn't keen on the LGPL - it's just a useful stepping
stone on the way to full GPL as far as he's concerned. And having seen
that, I'd be rather wary of the LGPL 2.1!
For what it's worth, the authors of these packages I'm talking about
want LGPL and are removing all traces of GPL-licensed code from their
package. While I'm more of an BSD/MIT kinda person. The subject line of
this post is also about the LGPL, so I'm really diverting things by
going into a GPL discussion.
Sounds weird to me you're deferring to rms then :-) While he'd defend
your *right* to choose BSD/MIT or LGPL, he'd be very sorry about your
choice - you should be choosing GPL :-)
Let's go back to what I originally wrote - "I'm wary of relicencing".
While I don't think rms has done anything wrong (as far as I can see
he has just enabled switching from one strong-copyleft licence to
another), it still throws up the spectre of relicencing!
Or the more complete quote
I'm always wary of explicitly relicencing. The GPL doesn't permit
it, and by doing so you are taking away user rights.
I still would like to know what user rights I'm taking away by
relicensing. Stallman seems to think that relicensing is acceptable
under some circumstances so long as the essential rights are preserved,
which include the rights supported by GNU and the FSF.
And those are the rights your choice of licences do NOT preserve.
Bearing in mind that, above my quote, I also wrote that I thought the
artistic licence was close to BSD (ie not strong copyleft). You can
relicence BSD as closed source - where are your "essential rights" now?
I obviously thought something similar could happen with artistic.
(looking at it - especially artistic 2 - in more detail, I see that it's
far more strong copyleft than I thought.)
(I say "essential rights" because that is what Stallman used. There are
obviously differences between the licenses.)
Okay, I'd use the FSF-recommended wording, fine. (Actually, personal
choice, I'd probably take a leaf out of Linus' book and use the
wording "either version 2 or version 3".)
One of the projects I work with uses source code which was explicitly
"GPL version 2 only". Now they are starting to have problems
integrating with GPLv3 software and they are considering if a massive
rewrite is in order.
Well, linux itself is explicitly v2 only :-)
And I'd follow Linus lead and be very wary of the "or later" wording.
I'd actually (with hindsight :-) do it differently and say that any
version of the GPL extant * as of the copyright date * could be used.
But note, the GPL *itself* says that the recipient gets their licence
from *me*. And the licence I would grant is 2+ or "2 or 3".
I pointed out the quote from a copyright lawyer with a special interest
in free software who said that the GPL was ambiguous about sublicensing
and if a chain of licenses was required or not.
I see the GPL explicitly agrees with me, not Larry Rosen :-) !!!
This is the GPL v3 - read the last section of "2. Basic Permissions" :
"Conveying under any other circumstances is permitted solely under the
conditions stated below. Sublicensing is not allowed; section 10 makes
Now let's look at section 10 ...
"10. Automatic Licensing of Downstream Recipients.
Each time you convey a covered work, the recipient automatically
receives a license from the original licensors, to run, modify and
propagate that work, subject to this License. You are not responsible
for enforcing compliance by third parties with this License."
This is exactly the section (maybe worded, certainly numbered,
differently) that I have repeatedly been referring to from the GPL v2.
Sorry, I know I'm being nit-picky about things, but lawyers do nit-pick.
If you don't, it can cost you EVERYTHING.
Oh - and the GFDL 1.2 does *not* allow relicensing to CC-BY-SA. Your
legal logic has slipped up. You've made the elementary error of
confusing the *grant* of licence with the licence *itself*.
If I use the recommended wording from GNU, which is what I quoted and
was using as a reference, then the phrase is
Version 1.2 or any later version published by the
Free Software Foundation;
Obviously if the license says "1.2" and leaves out that provision for
sublicensing/ relicening/ whatever you want to call it, then it's not
possible to change it. The GPL even has a section where it describes
the impact "or later" has on being able to re/sub/license.
Just like if something says "GPL 2" and leaves out the provision for
"or later" then it cannot be changed to GPLv3.
It's just, well, I didn't say that.
I don't understand why you think I'm confused about this matter.
Like you say "if the licence says "1.2" " - well, the *licence* NEVER
says "or later". It's the grant that says that, which is completely
separate from the licence itself. True, the licence contains a
"recommended form of grant", but just because I shove a copy of GPL 2 in
with my program doesn't give you the right to assume you can copy it as
per GPL 2. You need a SEPARATE "COPYING" document that tells you that
GPL 2 applies.
If I licence my work as GFDL 1.2 and you relicence it as CC-BY-SA,
I'll be after you for infringement like a shot! You *need* the "or
later" wording in the grant, and that is nothing to do with the
I see. It's because when I said "Well, the GPL does allow relicensing
to newer versions of the GPL" it's because I should have written "Well,
the GPL does allow relicensing to newer versions of the GPL so long as
you use the recommended phrase from GNU which allows 'or later'
licenses to be applied."
See above. It's the *grant* which allows YOU to choose which version of
the GPL applies to YOU. As I said above, I know I'm being nit-picky. But
if you don't understand what you're doing, then you're going to get
burnt at some point.
(Actually, with your preference for MIT you personally probably won't,
but be careful about straying into GPL territory...)
If you get a work as "GFDL 1.2 or later", *then* and *then*only* can
you say to yourself "stuff 1.2, I'll use 1.3" which allows you to pass
the stuff on as CC-BY-SA instead of GFDL.
I really do think you're reacting to what was a minor omission on my
part, by my using the phrase "the GPL" when it was "the grant that most
people make to use the GPL."
Pointing out that omission would have been more clarifying than saying
"IT DOESN'T, ACTUALLY !!!"
My omission came up because you outright declared that relicensing
takes away rights, when it's clear from the history of free licenses
that relicensing does occur and that it's possible to relicense without
taking away (essential) rights.
In this case, I think *YOU* are now the licensor. My legal-fu isn't
up to this, but if I originally granted GFDL, I don't think a CC-BY-SA
recipient can get their CC-BY-SA licence from me (they are
*restrospectively* changing my grant of licence, which I don't think
is possible). Likewise with LGPL 2.1, I think the person who changes
the licence to GPL becomes the new licensor.
Except that that wasn't at all the issue involved here. The "Massive
Multiauthor Collaboration Site"s involved received contributions, and
by contributing the copyright owners had to allow their contributions
to be used under GFDL-1.2 or later. These owners became perturbed when
the FSF changed GFDL-1.3 in order to allow relicensing under CC-BY-SA.
I know. But I was trying to respond to what I perceived as your reasons
for bringing this into the issue.
And I can understand why those owners became perturbed. Because they had
chosen GFDL and were shocked that *someone* *else* could change that to
CC. I would be shocked. Which is why I prefer licences that DON'T allow
That said, all rms is doing is swapping one strong-copyleft licence for
another and I see no cause for concern in this instance. But I
understand people being concerned.
But in order to do that, you need the copyright holder's permission.
And if I've said "v2 or later", you need my permission to *change*
that to "v3 or later". And with the GPL, I gave you permission to
*use* v3, not *change* *my* *grant*.
I believe you are wrong about this. Every evidence I've seen is that if
you allow "v2 or later" then I can at any time and with no cause or
other permissions from you and without any sort of creative addition to
the package, change the license I have on my copy of your source to use
At this point the only thing which would convince me otherwise is an
explicit statement from the GNU project or FSF. I say this because I
read things like
Will the BLACK LETTER of the GPL convince you otherwise? The statement
in v3 that sublicensing is not permitted? The statement in both v2 and
v3 that - if it's MY code, your recipients get their licence from ME not
Except that the above text is NOT PART OF THE LICENCE. Yes, it's
included in the licence text but legally it has absolutely nothing to do
with the licence itself. It's just a recommendation as to the text of
the licence *grant* - a legally separate entity - which you need to have
as well as the licence itself before you have the right to do anything
otherwise forbidden by copyright law.
If the Program specifies that a certain numbered version of the GNU
General Public License “or any later version” applies to it, you
have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that
numbered version or of any later version published by the Free
Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number
of the GNU General Public License, you may choose any version ever
published by the Free Software Foundation.
and that is in direct contradiction to your interpretation. GPLv2 has a
Agreed. Note that you can only relicence a *modified* version, so I
don't think you can take the version you've received, and just modify
the licence notices!
Again, what you write is directly in opposition to what the GPLv2 and
GPLv3 explicitly say. If you state that your software is distributed
under GPLv2 "or any later version" then you've also agreed that I have
the option of following the T&C of GPLv3, and without putting any
creative change into the software.
I have said that YOU can choose the Ts&Cs of v3. What I have NOT given
you permission to do is to tell your recipients that they can't choose
the Ts&Cs of v2.
In order for you to do that, you need to sublicence my code, and the GPL
Please, at this point if you insist that you are correct, please point
to something from the GNU or FSF or from Stallman which backs you up on
After all, I managed to find explicit statements from them which backed
up my points that LGPL and GFDL allow relicensing yet do not remove
essential rights, which was the point you were trying to make.
see my reference to the black letter of the GPL itself ...
Anthony W. Youngman - firstname.lastname@example.org