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From Stefano Mazzocchi <>
Subject Re: (Re)Licensing question
Date Tue, 10 Jan 2006 21:13:04 GMT
Pier Fumagalli wrote:
> On 10 Jan 2006, at 16:31, Helma van der Linden wrote:
>> Guys,
>> I usually keep away from licensing issues, but this time I'd like to 
>> know if it is done correctly. I'm looking at a project that is made up 
>> of several other open source projects, cocoon is one of them, another 
>> (sub)project is licensed under BSD.
>> This project is licensed under GPL. It doesn't say that only their 
>> part is GPL and others are licensed differently. Looks like they 
>> included the entire Cocoon source tree with licensing files for all 
>> external jars used and they also left in the ASF license headers in 
>> the various files.
>> Is this correct?
> It definitely is... The ASF doesn't pose any whatsoever restriction when 
> its code is being re-distributed by a third party (you could virtually 
> "sell" the ASF sources, and noone would be able to stop you).
> In this particular case, the entire project you methion is GPL licensed, 
> thus, any modifications made to it will be (as well) have to be GPLed. 
> This will guarantee that whoever inherits any of the files from that 
> project will have to redistribute them using the same license (in case 
> of any modification).
> The problem might arise for those willing to "modify" code based on that 
> project and re-publish those changes:
> If they submit changes to (let's say) Cocoon's sources back to the 
> project you're mentioning. The person modifying those sources can either 
> choose to submit them back to us (the real source) or to the project 
> they downloaded (the distributor).
> In the first case, we'll accept those modifications only if we can make 
> them our own (copyright is assigned and transfered to the ASF) and   
> will include them (hopefully) in our next release.
> In the second, those changes will be in the hands of the distributor 
> (and thus GPLed). There are two options, either the copyright of those 
> changes is transfered to the ASF by the distributor (and then we'll 
> follows what's described above) or they'll have to maintain those 
> patches themselves as we're not going to include GPL licensed code in 
> our repository...
> I hope this clears it a little bit...


In the real world, the ASF will *NEVER* come after you if you link 
apache licensed material from a GPL-ed project, neither would the FSF.

But the matter of fact is that the apache license has a patent bomb 
built into it that the GPL doesn't like because it's considered a 
*further restriction* and the GPL has a very well defined set of 
'freedoms' that it gives you and, unfortunately, it also gives people 
the freedom to sue your ass over IP infringement without any side 
effects on the licensing part of the software.

The ASF is a innovator in this space (and the FSF is going to catch up 
with the GPL3, hopefully) because it first introduced this "you sue my 
friend, I screw you" clause.

So, if EvilCocoonCorp sues GoodCocoonCorp over IP infringement of some 
patent they have and that Cocoon happens to implements, then 
EvilCocoonCorp can no longer distribute Cocoon's code!

It's not a solution to the software patent problem, but given the wild 
availability of our software, it creates a pretty complicated deadlock 
scheme (because the counter-lawsuits for illegal AL2.0 distribution 
would rain like in a tropical forest!)

There is nothing like that in the GPLv2.

Mixing the two and undergoing an IP lawsuit is going to create all sort 
of issues, because nowhere in the GPL there is something that says that 
parts of it are allowed to be licensed under some other license with 
more strict terms, therefore EvilCocoonCorp could claim that the GPL 
*shielded* them against that ASF patent bomb.

It's a mess, I know, but it's better be safe than sorry in these matters 
(even if Europe is, so far, a place where the IP problem doesn't count 
that much so it's a much safer bet)


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