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Autoconf Archive Licensing

From: Peter Simons
Subject: Autoconf Archive Licensing
Date: Sat, 25 Jul 2009 00:59:20 +0200

Hi guys,

Karl Berry is currently evaluating the archive for acceptance into the
GNU project. He and Richard Stallman have brought up an issue with the
licensing and I would appreciate your opinion on the matter.

Macros that are licensed all-permissively put no limitation whatsoever
on the licensing of the generated configure script. This is also true
for the BSD license and for GPL+Autoconf-Exception. The LGPL, however,
doesn't have that property. If a macro is licensed LGPL, then the
generated configure script cannot be licensed, for instance, under the
GPL, because GPL and LGPL are incompatible.

Now, there are numerous macros in the archive that are licensed LGPL:

RMS is worried because we distribute macros with a permissive license
and LGPL macros all mixed up in one tarball. This creates a situation
where it's easy for our users to rely on an LPGL macro without realizing
what exactly that means, because they assume that all those macros are

To remedy the situation, we could distribute LGPL macros in a separate

We could also try to avoid that by convincing the respective macro
authors to re-license their work under A-P, GPL+AC, or BSD.

What do you think? What is the best way to remedy the situation?

Take care,

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