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Questions about the Classpath license exception

From: Leo Simons
Subject: Questions about the Classpath license exception
Date: Sat, 14 May 2005 10:57:49 +0200
User-agent: Microsoft-Entourage/

Hi classpath developers!

(Harmony people: replies only on the classpath mailing list please, this has
in reality only little to do with harmony.)

"Oh no, not all that licensing crap again!"

As part of the ongoing investigation whether the new Apache Harmony project
can legally use GNU Classpath and what the licensing implications of that
should be, one of Apache's resident license experts inlined some comments
into the classpath exception wording:

   Linking this library (scope?) statically or dynamically with
   other modules (define?) is making a combined work based on this
   library. Thus, the terms and conditions of the GNU General
   Public License cover the whole combination. (I.e., this work
   and anything you combine with it cannot be copied, redistributed,
   or made into derivative works except under the terms of the GPL).

   As a special exception (on what?), the copyright holders (who?)
   of this library (encompassing what?) give you permission to
   link (how?) this (what?) library with independent modules (defined
   later) to produce an executable (what's that?), regardless of
   the license terms of these independent modules (license as
   received or license for redistribution?), and to copy and
   distribute (a small fraction of the rights under copyright law,
   not to mention patents) the resulting executable (but what about
   the source libraries?) under terms of your choice, provided that
   you also meet, for each linked independent module, the terms and
   conditions of the license of that module. An independent module
   is a module which is not derived from or based on (define?) this
   library. If you modify this library, you may extend this exception
   to your version of the library, but you are not obligated to do so.
   If you do not wish to do so, delete this exception statement from
   your version (which is the same as dual-licensing with GPL).

That's a lot of comments and question marks! The gist of this is that the
combination of GPL + this exception has many legal holes at a glance. From
what I understand (not a lot, IANAL), that is because various things in the
statement are not fully defined.

The first thing we would like to do is get rid of all those question marks.
It's probably not productive to go through all of them. One suggestion I'd
like to pass on is that you guys write up a list of the goals to be achieved
with the GPL+exception construct (ideally in the form of a web page, since
links are easy to pass around :-)) and some of the ASF people take a look at
that and take a stab at a proposal for a different kind of wording which
would be deemed to be compatible with those goals, Apache's goals with
Harmony, and the Apache License, if that's possible. We can then make the
three texts (the classpath exception, the goals to be achieved with the
exception, an alternative proposal) subject of a discussion, perhaps via

Sound like a plan? Mark, I think you've got my cell if you want a
high-bandwidth chat :-)



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