inquery about "GPL with commercial exception"

Ben Finney ben+debian at
Wed Sep 30 19:17:58 UTC 2015

"IOhannes m zmölnig (Debian/GNU)" <umlaeute at> writes:

> On 2015-09-30 02:18, Ben Finney wrote:
> > Yes, that is clearly what the GPL calls an “additional restriction”
> > on the recipient's exercise of their freedoms guaranteed by the
> > GPL.

(The wording used in GPLv2 is “further restriction”; sorry for the

> the "YOU" in [GPLv2 §6] only refers to the recipients who would like
> to pass on the software to other recipients. they may not add any
> "additional" restriction to the license as given by the original
> licenso r.

I think that's not correct. The wording is:

    You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients'
    exercise of the rights granted herein.

That implies, AFAICT, that it is a violation of the license to impose
any further restriction beyond what *the GPLv2 itself* grants.

It is not relevant who authored the further restriction, the GPLv2 does
not permit anyone to impose any further restriction beyond the GPLv2

So while the copyright holder may distribute the work even in violation
of the terms they grant, no-one else can comply simultaneously with the
GPLv2 and the further restriction; so no-one else has a valid license.

> > So one possible way to improve this situation is to correspond with
> > the copyright holders in each of the works on which LinuxSampler
> > depends, and encourage them to release new versions under
> > GPLv3-or-later.
> people already asked to release LinuxSampler itself under the GPLv3,
> which was declined upstream.

That seems consistent with their reported actions so far. Thank you for

> as i understand your proposal, we should try to persuade developers of
> LinuxSampler's mandatory libraries to solely license new versions
> under GPLv3

My proposal is that we should persuade copyright holders of
LinuxSampler's mandatory libraries to license new versions under “GPLv3
or later”, yes.

> as soon as LinuxSampler would then have a mandatory dependency on that
> *new* version of the library, we would have brute-forced their
> license.

No-one is forcing the LinuxSampler copyright holders to do that. But if
they want to benefit from a work, they must comply with is copyright
license, yes.

> i think this is:
> - unfair
> while  I would personally perfer LInuxSampler to be DFSG-compliant,
> upstream prefers to keep thir software non-free.

They are unfairly benefiting from *apparent* grant of a free software
license to their recipients. This would force their hand: do they want
to grant a free software license to recipients, or not?

I think the current situation is quite unfair, and requiring an honest
grant of license is a return toward fairness.

> but specifically asking them to do so, just so we can brute-force 3rd
> party licensing issues, doesn't sound especially appealing.

The GPLv3 is the current version of that license, and it brings numerous
advantages. This is one advantage, but it's wrong to state this as the
*only* advantage; I encourage anyone licensing a new version to prefer
GPLv3 over GPLv2.

> LinuxSampler could just stick with the original version of their
> dependency (e.g. not use any features solely available under GPLv3),
> and nothing would be gained at all.

They could, yes. It would increase social and economic pressure to
improve the freedom of the work, which is pretty much the explicit point
of the GPL's existence.

> or replace that dependency by something else.
> or just drop the entire project ("hooray, another license bastard
> eliminated" anyone?)

If a project deceptively claims GPL, but the fine print makes that
untrue, then yes, I think it's better that such a deliberate
contradictory claim is dropped.

Far better, of course, would be if the work became free. I proposed one
possible, not certain, approach to get there.

 \      “Actually I made up the term “object-oriented”, and I can tell |
  `\            you I did not have C++ in mind.” —Alan Kay, creator of |
_o__)                                        Smalltalk, at OOPSLA 1997 |
Ben Finney

More information about the pkg-multimedia-maintainers mailing list