"Publish your source to publish your paper" exception to GPL3. Would it be legal ? Would it be ethic ?

Hugo Roy hugo at fsfe.org
Wed Sep 30 14:59:58 UTC 2015

↪ 2015-09-30 Wed 16:33, Antonello Lobianco (not reply) <blackhole at lobianco.org>:
> While in the traditional software production sector the private (economic)
> driver to use an existing software is those of modifying it and licensing
> the modified software, in the academic context the economic/private driver
> to modify a software is rather to use it to publish papers.
> As it is unethical that you use a GPL software, modify it and pursuit your
> private interest licensing it keeping your modifications as closed source,

Why is it unethical? Your actions are not having any impact on other
people's freedoms when you keep GPL software modifications private
without such software being used by anyone else.

> I feel unethical that in the academic sector you can use GPL software, make
> modifications for your own private interest (making publications) and not
> give them back to the community.

Sharing should be allowed, but not mandatory. That's how it is in free
software anyway.

> [...]

> This software is covered by the above GNU GPL version 3 licence with the
> > following exceptions that prevail over the GNU GPL version:

(Technically, this isn't an “exception”, but an additional restriction)

> > #1: Any public communication (not limited: working papers, articles,
> > technical reports) of results derived from running a modified version of
> > this software requires the publication of the source code corresponding to
> > such modifications;
> > #2: Publishing communications derived from unmodified versions of the
> > software on which new data is applied doesn't require the publication of
> > the data;
> > #3: Any modifications must be released under the same licence of the
> > unmodified software, including these exceptions.
> > Version 3, 29 June 2007
> >
> [...etc..]
> Would such licence be legal (and would still allow the usage of GPL
> components) ?

That depends on the applicable law and in which jurisdiction it is

Also, whether the text you're submitting would actually be enforceable
is far from clear (for instance, the use of “derived from” suggests a
copyright notion of derivative work which would certainly by alomst
impossible to achieve thus rendering the addition useless).

> Would it be "ethic" (and would still be considered "free software") ?

Putting ethics aside for a moment, I believe that such an addition
would render the result non-free software as it would prevent you from
privately modifying software for purposes of “public communication”,
thus breaching a combination of Freedom0 and Freedom1 from GNU's

    1. https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html

Also, this addition would certainly create licensing incompatibilities
with GPL software, which would be very inconvenient and is thus
absolutely not desirable.

Please don't try to make this license or release your software under
such terms.

Hugo Roy – Free Software Foundation Europe https://fsfe.org/about/roy
Please use cryptography for email: see https://emailselfdefense.fsf.org/en/
Merci d’utiliser la cryptographie pour l’email : voir https://emailselfdefense.fsf.org/fr/
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 455 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://lists.fsfe.org/pipermail/discussion/attachments/20150930/c5880d7f/attachment.sig>

More information about the Discussion mailing list