GPL License with clause for Web use?

MJ Ray mjr at
Thu Nov 22 07:12:00 UTC 2007

simo <simo.sorce at> wrote:
> Remember that only the author can ever sue someone, so to get a "Public
> Domain" at all effects you just need to release code without any
> authorship but with explicit consent to use for any purpose, [...]

which is pretty much MIT/Expat, with a small attribution requirement
arguably already covered by moral rights in many places (not England)
or by simple copyright tracking.  It's not quite the same as PD, but
as near as makes no odds.

> > > Why bothering about copyleft at all?
> > 
> > I think there's a place in free software for a strong copyleft.
> Yes there is, and for even stronger (eg AGPL) too (imo).

Is there place in free software for output-marking software?

"Copylefted software is free software whose distribution terms do not
let redistributors add any additional restrictions when they
redistribute or modify the software" but GPLv3 does let, through AGPLv3.

> > Most of the ones I know who have switched to GPLv3 are GNU projects
> > who have done so under some instruction/suggestion from FSF to their
> This may not be accurate: but
> shows a different story. And no they are not mostly GNU projects, heck
> we (Samba) changed our license before GNU projects announced it afaik.

I can't verify that.  I click "Show Me" on that link and nothing
happens.  It's also a bit shameful to produce a Non-Commercial
database of free software projects.

> > [...]  If I had the spare developers, I'd
> > reimplement and obsolete that project, but it's not a core business
> > for me.
> Is it for anyone? If not why do you care so much, just as a matter of
> principle on a minutiae?

I care about AGPL because networked applications (just not that
particular web application right now) are my main business now and
AGPL discriminates against that field of endeavour, along with an
ability to proprietarise a significant pool of free software.  It is a
threat to the businesses of many webmasters, because AGPL'd software
will have higher costs and less flexibility.

> > However, with the publication of *this* particular AGPL in the last
> > few days, a key feature of GPLv3 has suddenly vanished.  So what are
> > its key features now?  Patent terms which debatably have no place in a
> > copyright licence and should have no effect in sane jurisdictions?
> You must live in a different world then the real world ...

Wow!  That's my problem!  I'm living in Marshmallow World!  Well done!
You should debate for Oxford!

Alternatively, maybe we can skip this sort of content-free insulting
in future ;-)

> for a
> license, it does not matter what the laws *should* say, it matters what
> the *current* legal environment is, and what are the *current* threats.

In *this* *current* legal environment, software patents are invalid,
but GPLv3 uses copyright law to import some of their effects, which is
rather irritating.

> The patent provisions were *necessary*, if you question that, I wonder
> how you can understand the legal framework the GPLv3 was built in and
> therefore the reach and the threats it needs to cover.

Unfortunately, GPLv3 seems to behave as if losing the swpat battle is
inevitable and exports them to us.

I can see why people in some places would now like a patent licence to
accompany the copyright licence, along the lines mentioned in the FAQ
or the Quick Guide, but there seemed no compelling need to put them in
the copyright licence.  I probably can understand it if someone
bothers to explain it.  In short: I've not seen any explanation of why
making GPLv3 into an combined "Intellectual Property" licence in that
way was necessary, so I don't understand why it was done.

> > Compatibility with both GPLv2 and Apache?  The water just got a whole
> > lot muddier.
> GPLv3 is compatible with a number of licenses, and funnily for example
> GPLv2 only is not compatible with GPLv3 [...]

Please excuse the omission of the + after the 2 by me there!

MJ Ray tel:+44-844-4437-237 -
Webmaster-developer, statistician, sysadmin, online shop builder,
consumer and workers co-operative member -
Writing on koha, debian, sat TV, Kewstoke

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