GPL Compatibility

Share Button

I’ve just come across this nice piece by David Wheeler on open source licensing and what it means to be GPL-compatible. Anybody who needs to deal with this kind of stuff (myself certainly included) should take a good look at this article. Unfortunately, licensing is only just one piece of the whole puzzle: there is also copyright assignment side of things that one must deal with when managing or contributing to a multi-licensed open source project, adding more confusion to the already complex, legal aspect of open source.

One common scenario one may encounter:

Bob the contributor: hey, thanks for your work. I’ve made some neat change to your software. Here is my patch. It’s GPL, so feel free to commit it to your source.

John the maintainer: Thanks. But I can’t accept your patch without first having you sign this copyright assignment, which you must fax to this number, wait for a few weeks to have our laywer go over it, and …

Bob: Why!? I thought your software was GPL’ed. Why do I need to go though all that trouble just for one patch!? Just take it.

John: Yes, but…(John’s software is dual-licensed with GPL and a commercial license for his own company.)

Things get more complicated when Bob’s patch was derived from another GPL’ed software that someone else wrote… Go figure.

About Kohei Yoshida

LibreOffice hacker, spreadsheet nerd, and machine learning beginner.
This entry was posted in and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.