Personal tools
You are here: Home Additional terms opinion, LaTeX
Document Actions

Additional terms opinion, LaTeX

Click here to get the file

Size 7.5 kB - File type text/x-tex

File contents


\section*{Opinion on Additional Terms}


The wording of section 7 in Draft 1 proved difficult for many readers
to understand.  In Draft 2 section 7 has been entirely rewritten and
bears a new title that more accurately reflects its scope.  The new
section 7 is longer than the first version, but it is no less concise;
it now explicitly addresses certain issues regarding the presence and
validity of additional terms that were not covered in the first
version.  It is meant to be clear, comprehensible, and comprehensive.
Because most of the comments we received on section 7 were, in effect,
questions about its meaning and interpretation, we use this opinion to
explain how section 7 provides a framework for the analysis and
treatment of additional terms under the GPL.

The GPL is a statement of permissions, some of which have conditions.
Additional terms, terms that supplement those of the GPL, may come to
be placed on, or removed from, GPL-covered code in certain common
ways.  We consider those added terms ``additional permissions'' if
they grant exceptions from the conditions of the GPL, and ``additional
requirements'' if they add conditions to the basic permissions of the
GPL. The treatment of additional permissions and additional
requirements under GPLv3 is necessarily asymmetrical, because they do
not raise the same ethical and interpretive issues; in particular,
additional requirements, if allowed without careful limitation, could
transform a GPL'd program into a non-free one.  With these principles
in the background, section 7 answers the following questions: (1) How
do the presence of additional terms on all or part of a GPL'd program
affect users' rights? (2) When and how may a licensee add terms to
code being distributed under the GPL? (3) When may a licensee remove
additional terms?

\subsection*{Additional Permissions}

Additional permissions present the easier case.  We have licensed some
of our own software under GPLv2 with permissive exceptions that allow
combination with non-free code, and that allow removal of those
permissions by downstream recipients; similarly, LGPLv2.1 is in
essence a permissive variant of GPLv2, and it permits relicensing
under the GPL.  We have generalized these practices in section 7.  A
licensee may remove any additional permission from a covered work,
whether it was placed by the original author or by an upstream
distributor.  A licensee may also add any kind of additional
permission to any part of a work for which the licensee has, or can
give, appropriate copyright permission. For example, if the licensee
has written that part, the licensee is the copyright holder for that
part and can therefore give additional permissions that are applicable
to it.  Alternatively, the part may have been written by someone else
and licensed, with the additional permissions, to that licensee.  Any
additional permissions on that part are, in turn, removable by
downstream recipients.  As subsection 7a explains, the effect of an
additional permission depends on whether the permission applies to the
whole work or a part.

We have drafted version 3 of the GNU LGPL, which we have released with
Draft 2 of GPLv3, as a simple list of additional permissions
supplementing the terms of GPLv3.  Section 7 has thus provided the
basis for recasting a formally complex license as an elegant set of
added terms, without changing any of the fundamental features of the
existing LGPL.  We offer this draft of LGPLv3 as as a model for
developers wishing to license their works under the GPL with
permissive exceptions.  The removability of additional permissions
under section 7 does not alter any existing behavior of the LGPL; the
LGPL has always allowed relicensing under the ordinary GPL.

\subsection*{Additional Requirements and License Compatibility}

We broadened the title of section 7 because license compatibility, as
it is conventionally understood, is only one of several facets of the
placement of additional terms on GPL'd code.  The license
compatibility issue arises for three reasons.  First, the GPL is a
strong copyleft license, requiring modified versions to be distributed
under the GPL.  Second, the GPL states that no further restrictions
may be placed on the rights of recipients.  Third, all other free
software licenses in common use contain certain requirements, many of
which are not conditions made by the GPL.  Thus, when GPL'd code is
modified by combination with code covered by another formal license
that specifies other requirements, and that modified code is then
distributed to others, the freedom of recipients may be burdened by
additional requirements in violation of the GPL.  It can be seen that
additional permissions in other licenses do not raise any problems of
license compatibility.

Section 7 relaxes the prohibition on further restrictions slightly by
enumerating, in subsection 7b, a limited list of categories of
additional requirements that may be placed on code without violating
GPLv3.  The list includes the items that were listed in Draft 1,
though rewritten for clarity.  It also includes a new catchall
category for terms that might not obviously fall within one of the
other categories but which are precisely equivalent to GPLv3
conditions, or which deny permission for activities clearly not
permitted by GPLv3.  We have carefully considered but rejected
proposals to expand this list further.  We have also rejected
suggestions, made by some discussion committee members, that the
Affero clause requirement (7d in Draft 1 and 7b4 in Draft 2) be
removed, though we have revised it in response to certain comments.
We are unwavering in our view that the Affero requirement is a
legitimate one, and we are committed to achieving compatibility of the
Affero GPL with GPLv3.

A GPL licensee may place an additional requirement on code for which
the licensee has or can give appropriate copyright permission, but
only if that requirement falls within the list given in subsection 7b.
Placement of any other kind of additional requirement continues to be
a violation of the license.  Additional requirements that are in the
7b list may not be removed, but if a user receives GPL'd code that
purports to include an additional requirement not in the 7b list, the
user may remove that requirement.  Here we were particularly concerned
to address the problem of program authors who purport to license their
works in a misleading and possibly self-contradictory fashion, using
the GPL together with unacceptable added restrictions that would make
those works non-free software. 

Section 7 points out that GPLv3 itself makes no assertion that an
additional requirement is enforceable by the copyright holder.
However, section 7 makes clear that enforcement of such requirements
is expected to be by the termination procedure given in section 8 of


Some have questioned whether section 7 is needed, and some have
suggested that it creates complexity that did not previously exist.
We point out to those readers that there is already GPLv2-licensed
code that carries additional terms.  One of the objectives of section
7 is to rationalize existing practices of program authors and
modifiers by setting clear guidelines regarding the removal and
addition of such terms.  With its carefully limited list of allowed
additional requirements, section 7 accomplishes additional objectives,
permitting the expansion of the base of code available for GPL
developers, while also encouraging useful experimentation with
requirements we do not include in the GPL itself.

by johns last modified 2006-08-02 17:19

Powered by Plone

This site conforms to the following standards: