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From Don Armstrong <>
Subject Re: Apache License, Version 2.0
Date Sat, 24 Jan 2004 04:02:10 GMT
On Fri, 23 Jan 2004, Roy T. Fielding wrote:
> I am sure they will do so when they have it written down.  Eben
> Moglen takes great care in crafting his opinions, and I don't want
> to rush the FSF into a response that hasn't been carefully
> considered.

Oh, certainly. That's primarily the reason why I suggest that it's
premature to claim that the ASL 2.0 is compatible with the GPL, as it
could be damaging to those works already being distributed under ASL
1.1 which could be considered to be derived works from a GPLed work
via linking or similar.

> Because the patent license of section 3 of the ASL has no bearing on
> software that is being distributed under the GPL.  Whether or not a
> person can distribute a given work under the GPL due to an existing
> patent is not a matter for compatibility between the two licenses;
> it is merely an issue for the work in question.

Hopefully it's clear that when I discuss compatibility between
licenses I am refering to the creation (and distribution) of a
derivative work from two works each under one of the licenses.

[snipped and moved]

> You MUST understand, before going any further, that the question of
> whether a license is compatible with GPL and the question of whether
> a piece of software is compatible with GPL are two SEPARATE issues,
> even if a license can cause incompatibilities. 

I think you want to say whether a piece of software can be distributed
under the GPL instead of being compatible with it. Hopefully my
explanation above clarifies the meaning of compatibility that I am

> That does not make the license incompatible.  If the owner of such
> patent were to deny a license to the GPL'd distribution, then that
> work could not be distributed under the GPL.  Since that is true
> regardless of the source of the code, the fact that Apache and GPL
> licenses were combined has no bearing on the result.
> In this case, the license is compatible but insufficient to allow
> GPL distribution.  That is a fact of life and is true of all of the
> licenses that the FSF has already said are compatible with the GPL.

In certain instances, yes, but there is nothing in those licenses
which explicitely causes the result to be undistributable.

The critical question is: does ASL §3 in conjuction with GPL §7
restrict distribution in a case that would not be restricted in the
case of a GPLed work alone?

I'm concerned the framing of the patent reciprocity clause forms a
restriction that isn't present in a GPLed work, and that's the primary
reason why I've suggested that blanket claims of GPL compatibilty be
held off until some sort of statement has been made regarding it.

> Since the Apache License allows that explicitly, it is true for
> anyone who uses the Apache License, and thus the licenses are
> compatible regardless of an opinion.

Were it were explicit! [Explicit in this case being something along
the lines of "software under this license may also be distributed
under the terms of the GPL version 2 or later at your option."]

Don Armstrong

Il semble que la perfection soit atteinte non quand il n'y a plus rien
a ajouter, mais quand il n'y a plus rien a retrancher.
(Perfection is apparently not achieved when nothing more can be added,
but when nothing else can be removed.)
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupe'ry, Terres des Hommes

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