Last Updated On December 18th 2011
This is a follow up discussion (slightly edited) to the post, “Permissive License like Apache seems Best Choice For Maximum/Inclusive Use/Re-Use of Software Products”: https://ravisiyer.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/permissive-license-like-apache-seems-best-choice-for-inclusive-re-use-of-software-products/.
GPL friend wrote: About GPL vs ASL, I know you have made your choice.
Ravi responded: No, I have not yet finalized. But I sure am quite confident now that ASL is right for me. I will perhaps take the final call when I have to make it. Like when I have to accept software/data contributions OR, for sure, when I release the first version of the software.
GPL friend wrote: I just wanted to make sure you are aware of all the information.
Ravi responded: Your information is gratefully acknowledged :).
GPL friend wrote: ASL is a good license, so if you are inclined that way, that is quite alright. It just happens to conflict with my principles, but that’s my personal preference.
Ravi responded: I respect your principles and your personal preference. And you have tons of software guys for company 🙂
Thanks a lot for giving me the GPL side of the matter. I think your valuable input has helped me get close to taking an informed decision rather than an emotional/arbitrary decision.
ASL (Apache License) Friend wrote: It’s not just proprietary software and iOS apps that can’t use GPL v3-licensed stuff, but also Apache-licensed software and even GPLv2 (only) software can’t use any code from GPL v3 software.
Ravi responded: Oh! So GPLv2 software guys will need to migrate to GPLv3 for a new version which would like to use other GPLv3 software. But perhaps that’s not a big deal. I mean, GPLv2 guys would probably have no philosophical issues with GPLv3. Though some GPLv2 folks could probably have some minor issues with GPLv3 migration over technicalities.
ASL (Apache License) Friend responded: I disagree. They may think GPLv2 is an acceptable license, but GPLv3 is going too far into Stallman-land. Linus Torvalds himself is of that opinion: http://www.informationweek.com/news/198002077 . He says that it’s not his job to tell people what they can or can’t do with the kernel, like DRM, and that the kernel is the wrong tool to fight DRM and the like. He says he never agreed with the FSF’s philosophical views. He used GPL only because he wanted changes to the kernel to be open, too.
Something else I learnt from this article: GPLv2 and GPLv3 are mutually incompatible. Code licensed under one cannot be used in a project under the other license. It’s just that a lot of projects that we think are GPLv2-licensed actually say “version 2 or later”. So, if a project says that it’s licensed under GPLv2 or later, it can obviously be converted into GPLv3 and used in a GPLv3 project. But other than that, both versions of GPL are incompatible.
So, if you use GPLv3, your code cannot be used in:
– iOS Apps
– potentially some or a lot of Android tablets (like Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook)
– projects that use permissive licenses like BSD, Apache
– GPLv2 only projects
Ravi responded: Thanks for the input. I confirmed your points from http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#AllCompatibility.
And I can empathise with Linus Torvalds not wanting to license his code as “version x or later” as he has no idea of what the later licenses will be like. It would be like signing a blank cheque.
I found this “GPLv3 position statement” in Sept. 2006 from Linus Torvalds very interesting: https://lkml.org/lkml/2006/9/25/161.
ASL (Apache License) Friend wrote: General discussion unrelated to your project: LGPL is an interesting mid-point between Apache/BSD and GPL, where you can use LGPL code in any software, but modifications must be LGPL-ed. None of the other popular licenses make that distinction between using and modifying — either both are permitted, or both are ruled out.
Another friend wrote: Sounds reasonable (Apache License seeming to be the right choice).
A very motivating factor seems to be the fact that Google releases most of the open source software under the Apache license.
Ravi responded: Agreed.