[arch-general] [arch-dev-public] [aur-general] Licenses, GPL3 only

Tavian Barnes tavianator at gmail.com
Thu Aug 26 11:53:54 EDT 2010

On 26 August 2010 06:23, Ray Rashif <schivmeister at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 26 August 2010 19:16, Roberto Alsina <ralsina at netmanagers.com.ar> wrote:
>> On Thursday 26 August 2010 08:12:23 Ronald van Haren wrote:
>>> My second point was that we don't know what the future will bring.
>>> Will new applications being licensed under GPL2 or later, GPL3 or
>>> later, GPL4, GPL4 or later... there are lots of options. There are
>>> lots of possibilities and I'm wondering if it is at all feasible to
>>> create a naming scheme which will fit all.
>> Sure:
>> GPL2
>> GPL2+
>> GPL3
>> GPL3+
>> etc.
>> For convenience, you may want to make GPL the equivalent of GPL2+
> Here's what is currently being done:
> ln -s GPL2 GPL
> So in fact, we don't even have the text of the "only" version. Neither
> does the FSF.
> There is no proper "example", "template" or "draft" for a GPLn-only
> license. For eg. the kernel has this in its COPYING:
> <quote>
> NOTE! This copyright does *not* cover user programs that use kernel
>  services by normal system calls - this is merely considered normal use
>  of the kernel, and does *not* fall under the heading of "derived work".
>  Also note that the GPL below is copyrighted by the Free Software
>  Foundation, but the instance of code that it refers to (the Linux
>  kernel) is copyrighted by me and others who actually wrote it.
>  Also note that the only valid version of the GPL as far as the kernel
>  is concerned is _this_ particular version of the license (ie v2, not
>  v2.2 or v3.x or whatever), unless explicitly otherwise stated.
>                        Linus Torvalds
> </quote>
> That is the only difference between that license text and the one in
> /usr/share/common, i.e it is a special case, a GPL2 license with an
> "exception clause". Otherwise, both have exactly 2 occurences of "any
> later version".
> == GPL2 ==
> If we want to honour cases like that, we would have to encourage the
> inclusion of the license. So, our kernel should mention:
> license=('custom:GPL2')
> And include /usr/share/licenses/kernel26/COPYING. All cases of
> "custom" should naturally imply that there is a license text to check
> out.
> All other "normal" GPL software should have:
> license=('GPL')
> Which needs no intervention.
> == GPL3 ==
> Now, because the texts of the GPL2 and GPL3 are different, we cannot,
> for eg. symlink anything to GPL3. But in the above manner, software
> like the kernel need to have:
> license=('custom:GPL3')
> And include /usr/share/licenses/foobar/COPYING.
> While the rest of the GPL3 software can just have:
> license=('GPL3')
> == TL;DR ==
> Basically, we just standardise the use of:
> license=('custom:GPLn')
> For software with GPL exception texts, and include the license. Only
> the kernel (and mysql? [1]) package needs to be changed to conform to
> this; nothing else needs to be done. Very "future proof", IMO.
> [1] http://www.downloadsquad.com/2007/01/04/mysqls-license-is-now-gpl-2-only/
> --

>From my understanding of copyright, it seems to me that we don't have
to treat GPL2-only and GPL2+ works any differently.  Both were
distributed under the GPLv2, and can obviously be redistributed under
the same license.  Whether a package decides to add the "or any later
version" extension isn't really our problem; we correctly identify the
licence under which the software was _actually_ released.  If someone
wants to relicense it, they can go and get the actual source (which
they'll need anyway) and it'll say that they are free to distribute it
under later GPL versions.  But of course, IANAL.

Tavian Barnes

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