Questions / Concepts GPL. Was: Re: GPL License with clause for Web use?

Sam Liddicott sam at
Fri Nov 30 09:39:16 UTC 2007

* simo wrote, On 29/11/07 22:57:
>> It's how I read the AGPL - except the GPL3/13 allows conversion of the
>> GPL3 work to AGPL in which case the modifications could be AGPL.
>> It seems to me that GPL3/13 that gives authority to do this, not AGP -
>> if the recipient chooses to act on that authority and do so.
>> However, a summary of points will be collated on Monday for a request
>> of official clarification as per Shane's suggestion.
>> I enjoyed the discussion, anyway... even though I got a little
>> overheated, so thanks all, for being so frank so that we could
>> understand each-others concerns and understandings.
> I have exchanged a couple of emails with Richard Fontana of SFLC, one of
> they key lawyers involved in helping FSF coming up with the GPLv3 during
> the drafting process.
> He told me his personal opinion, which is not necessarily what the FSF
> thinks, is that my read of the clause is close to his reading.
> Basically, Richard thinks that the "linked or combined" language does
> not imply modification. IE, releasing a patch against the GPLv3 part of
> the work under AGPLv3 would even be a copyright violation. The patch
> needs to be GPLv3. Only the combination of the works obeys to AGPLv3's
> additional requirements. But each piece retains completely its license.
> Therefore there is no risk that a GPLv3 work can be effectively turned
> into an AGPLv3 work by means of patches.
Thanks for following this up.

I hope then, that "combine" does not permit modification.

(Please don't think I am being pedantic here, I try to understand the
scope of rules by discovering their boundaries, and that is what I am
doing here, and I appreciate your indulgence and help.)

However, if the modifier can't release an AGPL patch to the GPL3 portion
they may choose to not release a patch, but to merely continue to
distribute the combined work as permitted by the AGPL. It seems like the
AGPL then would prohibit the separation of the patch from the combined
work (which may not be what the license authors intended)

Do you think from what Richard says that the original GPL3 author can
extract this modification to the GPL3 portion as a GPL3 patch, (the
patch not being his work and only distributed as part of the AGPL
combination) and combine this patch with his own work and distribute it
according to the GPL3?

An example case: if a glue-class is written in php, subclassing a class
from the GPL3 module, but instantiated by the AGPL3 module (thus also
performing a link operation), and it be this subclass that has some
implementation that "ought" to be incorporated into the GPL3 module,
will the GPL3 author, receiving the source by virtue of being a "user"
of the AGPL3 work, be able to combine parts of this subclass into his
own work, without receiving addition permissions fro the subclass author?


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