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From Mark Wielaard <>
Subject Re: licensing (was: Ant gui tool)
Date Sun, 22 Oct 2000 12:22:55 GMT

On Sat, Oct 21, 2000 at 11:21:58AM +1000, Peter Donald wrote:
> >> [...]
> >> I suspect that it is just a move to block people developing code under APL.
> >You make it sound like RMS personally decides if something is or is not
> >GPL compatible. The reason the APL and GPL are not compatible are legal
> >not personal. The GPL is only compatible with licenses that have as much
> >or less restrictions then the GPL. The problem with the APL is that it tries
> >to use copyright law to enforce something that should be handled with
> >an trademark (the you may not use the word xxx and yyy clauses 4 and 5).
> Ahh RMS doesn't decide he gives his interpretation of the law. The few
> times that I am aware the GNU went against RMS led to them recinding their
> actions in favour of RMS so ...
> Long story short what RMS saids tends to turn out to be "true". His opinion
> has known to change overtime thou - sometimes over very short periods of
> time. The opinion is however what guides the fsf and thus can lead to
> "interesting" biases. For example it is acceptable to work with X
> consortium but not acceptable to work with Apache. Why ? Political
> motivations. See who runs X and how much influence they have.

This is not my experience. When I emailed the FSF or RMS about licensing
issues they would consult a laywer or put me in contact with one of their
laywers that looked at it to interpret the different licenses and copyright
law. I have never seen any purely political motivations for deciding if
a license was GPL compatible. Code distributed under the MIT X license for
example is always distributable together with GPL covered code whoever
distributes it. This is not specific to the X consortium.

They have always been very cooperative to explain the difficulties and
suggest solutions when you want to distribute GPL covered code together
with some other code. Maybe that has not always been so, but I think that
the email that Jon Schewe forwarded to the list shows that this is currently
certainly the case.

> [...]
> you ever heard of sarcasm ? RMS/GNU does not approve of APL and discourages
> anyone from using it or developing software at Apache. He used to be a lot
> more opinionated against Apache a while ago and that was one of the reasons
> it took me so long to begin to trust Apache. 
Sorry I didn't notice that you were sarcastic. I have now read some more
of your emails on this subject and noticed that you do know a lot about
the issues involved. But this email seemed to me to be just a flame against
RMS with a lot of FUD.

Your other emails were very constructive and did offer suggestions on
how people could combine GPL and APL. We should try to concentrate on
offering people solutions like dual licensing or using a license (such
as the MIT X license or modern BSD license) that is compatible with both
the APL and GPL.

And I really hope that some people can come together this ApacheCon and
settle this once and for all. It would be so good if the APL would finaly
be GPL compatible then we wouldn't have to have such discussion anymore
and just combine code however we wanted. And making the APL GPL compatible
isn't that diffucult. Either clauses 4 and 5 have to be altered to not
state their conditions as extra restrictions (use the word please, not must).
Or split it into a seperate copyright and trademark license.



P.S. Could we take this to another list (is there a general apache license
list?) This has nothing to do with Ant anymore but I think it is important to
discuss these matters since there will always be people that want to
combine APL covered code with GPL covered code and distribute the results.
I think it would be very good to make a FAQ about these issues.

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