GPL License with clause for Web use?

simo simo.sorce at
Thu Nov 22 08:07:40 UTC 2007

On Thu, 2007-11-22 at 07:12 +0000, MJ Ray wrote:
> In *this* *current* legal environment, software patents are invalid,

1. by *this* I guess you mean UK, but the GPL is meant to be
international, so you have to think broader. In too many jurisdictions
patents on software are valid and enforced.

2. even if *in theory* software patents should not be issued in Europe,
the EPO has issued as many as at least 60k of them. I am all for making
them invalid and infact I lobbied together with FFII to get to the
fantastic achievement we got into the European parliament. *But* that
has not stopped the EPO from issuing software patents in Europe at all
and there are serious threats that software patents will be completely

> but GPLv3 uses copyright law to import some of their effects, which is
> rather irritating.

No in this case GPLv3 uses patent law and grants a patent license too.

> > 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.

The GPLv3 has to defend programmers it can't ignore a serious legal
threat to make a political point. The GPL is a license not a political
manifesto. (It is also a political manifesto in some sense but it is
_primarily_ a license).

> 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.

Well too bad, because in many places at this point just having copyright
is not enough. You really need a patent grant from people that has
patents to be able to fully exercise your 4 freedoms.
What use is a license that under copyright provides you the 4 freedom
but that you can't even distribute programs under that license because
that would infringe some patent?

>   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.

Simple, take an evil company, this evil company will take the software
Mj Ray has made, add some modifications to it to enhance a core
functionality and also take a patent on it.
This company starts distributing it, under the GPLv3- (no patents) and
at the same time this company prohibits even Mj Ray from distributing
any copy unless he pay this company X Eur per copy because this evil
company has patents that cover your modified work and want royalties per

Would you like to see your own software killed this way?
If you like it, go for a license that has absolutely no explicit (GPLv3)
nor implied (GPLv2) patent provisions ...


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