[kaffe] LGPL vs. GPL-with-exception

Casey Marshall rsdio at metastatic.org
Mon Jan 19 20:38:02 PST 2004

Hash: SHA1

>>>>> "Doug" == Doug Porter <dougporter at fastmail.fm> writes:

(this will be the extent of my comments about this subject on this
list; take it off-list if you want to reply)

Doug> On Mon, 19 Jan 2004 12:11:57 -0800, "Casey Marshall"
Doug> <rsdio at metastatic.org> said:

Doug> Once you do more than link, the exception doesn't help.
>>  Neither does the LGPL.

Doug> Maybe not, but I'm still greatly reassured by LGPL's explicit
Doug> statement that my work isn't magically a derivative work. ;)

The exception in Classpath's license doesn't?

Doug> And the GPL is, intentionally, not very friendly to people who
Doug> do commercial software.
>>  You mean "proprietary software".

Doug> Nope, I meant commercial. And yes, I'm aware that GNU approves
Doug> certain restricted (Let the flames begin!) commercial
Doug> activities. The GPL isn't friendly to what the rest of the work
Doug> calls commercial software.

No. You mean proprietary software.

Or, rather, you mean "proprietary software that is licensed for a
profit". It may be common to call this "commercial software", but the
term is still inaccurate.


Doug> But, a nagging voice asks, why does the LGPL have its explicit
Doug> disclaimer about derivative works? The GPL doesn't have that
Doug> disclaimer. Instead all it has is Section 2, as you say. Section
Doug> 2 is not enough for commercial software. That's why LGPL and
Doug> GPL-with-exception were created.

You still don't understand. Irregardless of the question of derivative
works and your rights with respect to them, none of these licenses
require you to transfer ownership (ie copyright).

Doug> And BTW, any reason the GNU page on licenses doesn't appear to
Doug> mention GPL-with-exception?

It lists the license of Guile, which is effectively the same thing.
Such an exception, however, is not really a part of the license; it is
an addition and clarification to what the license proper (a rather
generic document) does not provide for.

Documenting the various exceptions people could make to a license
isn't the point of the FSF's license list.

Doug> And after all, LGPL is still an open source license.
>>  The LGPL is a free software license.

Doug> Good grief.

Doug> My intent was never to start a traditional license flame war. I
Doug> won't continue this one.

My intent was never to start a flame war either, but rather to set
straight your misconceptions. A part of your misconceptions are the
terms involved.

Doug> If someone is comfortable with GPL-with-exception, that's
Doug> fine. I accomodated a request that I give my reasons for
Doug> strongly believing LGPL is better.

Doug> With free/open source software, we all have a choice.

(I don't mean you in particular, here)

I see comments similar to this often, always from people who sell
proprietary software, who want to use free software in their products.
Almost universally these comments come from the perspective that free
software is just something they can use cheaply, without contributing
anything of value to the software they use. I see it so often that I
reject it out of hand, with prejudice.

It is often claimed that since all-permissive licenses (and, to a
lesser extent, the LGPL) do not impose the same restrictions as a
strong copyleft (the GPL) that they are "more free". The extent of
this freedom, however, is the freedom to make proprietary software
from free software. If we appreciate the other freedoms free software
gives us (not just the shallow claim that the development model is
technically superior) then that freedom is neither important nor

You may not find the freedoms free software tries to protect valuable;
if so then don't participate.

(Rant over. Apologies all around)

- -- 
Casey Marshall || rsdio at metastatic.org
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