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GPL Compatible

Richard Stallman: GPLv3 is now compatible with the Apache 2.0 license

With apologies to Inigo: You keep using that word — I do not think it means what you think it means.

The GPL V3 license is compatible with the ASF V2 license in precisely the same way that blood type AB is compatible with blood type O.

Note: I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.  In fact, this change will positively benefit many.  I just think that it expressing this complex concept by using a word that has multiple — dare I say it — incompatible meanings will only promote confusion.


Much and all as I appreciate your telegraphic style (really!), the world would benefit from an  unambiguous description in short simple words of the ASF’s opinion as to the precise relationship between APL2 and GPL3. Thanks in advance.  -Tim

Posted by Tim Bray at

I’d also appreciate a few more words about this from the ASF side.  The GPL/ASL license compatibility issue is the main reason I’ve been GPL/LGPL/ASL multi-licensing my own software for many years.

Posted by Dave Beckett at

the world would benefit from an  unambiguous description in short simple words of the ASF’s opinion as to the precise relationship between APL2 and GPL3.

I’ll attempt to do that and more:

In short: it is important that people who wish to contribute to ASF codebases be aware that the “compatibility” being touted is one way, and it is equally as important that people who wish to make use of ASF software actually follow the license.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

GPLv3 Released, Apache Rejects Compatibility Claim

The Free Software Foundation released GNU General Public License, version 3 ( GPLv3 ) yesterday. FSF : Version 3 of the GNU GPL strengthens this guarantee, by ensuring that users can modify the free software on their personal and household devices,...

Excerpt from Weiqi Gao's Observations at

Just noting, in response to Weiqi’s hachet job, that this web site is being served using Apache on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

There’s nothing to see here.  FSF has always defined “GPL compatibility” as “things you can add to GPL-licensed code.”  Their definition hasn’t changed.  What has changed is that Apache-2-licensed code can now be added to GPL-3-licensed code.  (FSF claimed, and ASF eventually agreed, that Apache-2-licensed code can not be added to GPL-2-licensed code.)

So yes, it’s a one-way street.  But it’s always been a one-way street.  The difference is now more people can drive on it.  Lucky you.

Posted by Mark at

FSF claimed, and ASF eventually agreed, that Apache-2-licensed code can not be added to GPL-2-licensed code

I am not aware of that agreement.  URI?

Furthermore, here is an example of Apache Licensed code being included in a GPL V2 only licensed project.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

GPL3 Compatible - Sam Ruby

Commentary that compatible for GPL3 and Apache Software License 2 is not as simple as RMS says....

Excerpt from del.icio.us/dajobe at

[link] states:

...the FSF requests that you do not consider the two licenses to be compatible. The Apache Software Foundation believes that you should always try to obey the constraints expressed by the copyright holder when redistributing their work...

I suppose that’s not “agreement,” per se.  Call it “acknowledgement” if you like.  (It’s certainly a hell of a lot nicer than the first version of the document that existed at that URL, which has since slipped down the memory hole, but that’s another story for another day.)

Posted by Mark at

Furthermore, here is an example of Apache Licensed code being included in a GPL V2 only licensed project.

Have you filed a bug?

Posted by Mark at

the first version of the document that existed at that URL, which has since slipped down the memory hole

Have you checked subversion?

Have you filed a bug?

On what?  I, too, will acknowledge that the FSF has stated that they believe that there is a compatibility issue between the Apache license, version 2, and versions of the GPL prior to V3.  As to whether or not that issue is valid, applies to the OpenJDK project, or to what extent the FSF wishes to enforce their interpretation of their license, I care not to speculate.

If, however, you spot an instance where either this project, or another project for that matter, is using ASF code in variance with the license under which it is provided, I will pass this information along to people who will vigorously pursue it.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

Ah, here’s the nasty first draft I remembered: [link]

Here’s the paragraph that was removed:

We have no idea who authored that comment, nor what grounds they based their opinion, nor what motivations they may have for saying the Apache License is incompatible with the GPL.  All other licenses have specific requirements that are not in the GPL (if that weren’t true, there would only be one license).  However, it was slash-dotted as the official stance of the FSF, even though no official of the FSF has ever said such a thing to the ASF, and now we have the unenviable task of dealing with comments from people who haven’t bothered to read either license before sending their opinion to us about what someone said someone else thinks on slashdot.  If you are thinking about being one of those people, please use your own brain and consider the following facts.

As I recall from first-person conversations at the time, this sentiment was shared by several people in the ASF.  I believe the exact quote from Ken Coar was “We have no idea who wrote that.  It could have been the janitor.”

Good times.

Posted by Mark at

Looks like I didn’t go back far enough:

and now we have the unenviable task of dealing with a thousand ditto-heads who haven’t bothered to read either license before sending their opinion to us

Awesome.  Calling people “ditto-heads” is the perfect way to start a licensing discussion.  Almost as good as imaginary janitors with CVS access.

Posted by Mark at

Calling people “ditto-heads” is the perfect way to start a licensing discussion.

Read the commit messages.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

Afaict, OpenJDK has an assembly exception (https://openjdk.dev.java.net/source/browse/openjdk/jdk/trunk/ASSEMBLY_EXCEPTION?rev=227&view=markup)
that covers (among other things)

“4. Any files in the OpenJDK distribution that are made available at openjdk.java.net, openjdk.dev.java.net, or download.java.net under an open source license other than GPL, and your derivatives thereof that are in compliance with the applicable open source license.”

according to [link]

Posted by Dalibor Topic at

Oh, and of course: Thanks to the ASF team for helping make the GPLv3 and ALv2 compatible.

Posted by Dalibor Topic at

If Debian agrees that GPLv3 is free as in DFSG, this could be very important for any project that uses Apache License 2.0 code (which Java project doesn’t?), uses Rhino (MPL 1.1 or GPLv2 or later) and wants to have the software included in Debian.

Posted by Henri Sivonen at

The “Project Zero FAQ” FAQ

What is Project Zero? Project Zero is an incubator project started within IBM that is focused on the agile development of the next generation of dynamic Web applications. Think Corporate Gibberish Generator meets Web 2.0 Bullshit Generator. Why is...

Excerpt from dive into mark at

By my understanding, there is nothing wrong with me using APL licensed code in a GPLv2’d project of which I am the sole contributor.

Users of such a project would benefit from an implicit exception to the GPL allowing them to link the APL’d code to my GPL’d code (and could rely on that exception when redistributing the code or creating modified versions).  This would seem to be the case for OpenJDK too since Sun is the copyright holder for the GPL’d code release.

[It does not excuse violations of the APL like the glassfish example you posted though ...]

The main change with the GPLv3 is that I can take someone else’s code and make it depend on APL’d code and distribute the results.

Posted by James Henstridge at

What is Open Source? Apache versus the Free Software Foundation

The Apache license is more open than the GPL. Richard Stallman claims that version 3 of of the GPL is now compatible with the Apache license. Same Ruby points out that this is a one-way street in terms of compatibility; the GPL can use Apache code...

Excerpt from Closer To The Ideal at

Sam Ruby: GPL Compatible

[link]...

Excerpt from del.icio.us/tag/projectzero at

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