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Re: inquery about "GPL with commercial exception"

Jeff Epler <jepler@unpythonic.net> writes:

> For discussion, the text in question from the linuxsampler website reads:
>  [*] LinuxSampler is licensed under the GNU GPL with the exception that
>  USAGE of the source code, libraries and applications FOR COMMERCIAL
>  permission by the LinuxSampler authors. If you have questions on the
>  subject, that are not yet covered by the FAQ, please contact us. 
> I think this is more a *prohibition* (something permitted by the GPL,
> use for any purposes, is prohibited) than an *exception*.

Yes, that is clearly what the GPL calls an “additional restriction” on
the recipient's exercise of their freedoms guaranteed by the GPL.

GPLv2 §6:

    Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the
    Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the
    original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject
    to these terms and conditions. You may not impose any further
    restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted
    herein. You are not responsible for enforcing compliance by third
    parties to this License.

> The page also says that a mandatory dependency of LinuxSampler, libgig,
> is licensed under GPL without prohibition.

If LinuxSampler is deemed (hypothetically in the future by a ruling in a
copyright suit) to be a derived work of libgig, then distribution of
LinuxSampler is subject to the GPL on libgig.

The same is true of any other GPL-licensed work from which LinuxSampler
is derived: if it is distributed, that distribution must conform to the
terms of the GPL.

In that case — which I believe is the case here — then distributing
LinuxSampler with additional restrictions in the license terms is a
violation of the license they have to distribute the work at all.

> In my opinion:
>  - GPL with additional use prohibition is not DFSG-compatible
>  - GPL with additional use prohibition is not GPL-compatible

As an interesting point, GPLv3 is even better for this: it has a clause
(GPLv3 §7) that explicitly grants the recipient the freedom to ignore
the offending additional restriction, and to strip that restriction from
the terms when they redistribute the work.

So one possible way to improve this situation is to correspond with the
copyright holders in each of the works on which LinuxSampler depends,
and encourage them to release new versions under GPLv3-or-later.

Then LinuxSampler's copyright holders would be faced with the choice to
have their imposition of additional restrictions neutered, or never gain
the benefits of upgrading the dependency.

 \       “Come on Milhouse, there’s no such thing as a soul! It’s just |
  `\      something they made up to scare kids, like the Boogie Man or |
_o__)                          Michael Jackson.” —Bart, _The Simpsons_ |
Ben Finney

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