[development] GPL policy: request for clarification

Jeremy Andrews jeremy at kerneltrap.org
Mon May 29 04:35:31 UTC 2006

On Sun, 28 May 2006 21:28:00 -0700
Nedjo Rogers <nedjo at islandnet.com> wrote:

> The GPL appears to allow us to combine GPL and "compatible"
> code in a single GPL-licensed package. Can we include such
> code in drupal.org CVS?
> This is a pressing issue because there is considerable
> interest in using external GPL-compatible but non-GPL
> Javascript libraries (Prototype, jQuery), at least in
> contrib and possibly as candidates for core.
> Our CVS policy states "All code must be licensed under
> GNU/GPL" (contributions README.txt).
> The practice has been to interpret this as meaning that
> open source libraries with "MIT" or similar licenses may
> not be included in Drupal CVS.
> However, the Free Software Project has designated a number
> of licenses, including the "MIT" license, as "compatible"
> with the GPL, because they impose no restrictions that
> conflict with the GPL, see
> http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/license-list.html#GPLCompatibleLicenses.
> The GPL FAQ specifically states,
> http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#WhatDoesCompatMean,
> that the GPL permits you to "combine code released under
> the other [compatible] license with code released under the
> GNU GPL in one larger program" privided that "such a
> combination ... is released under the GNU GPL".
> In other words, apparently, we can GPL the combination of
> GPL code and code with compatible licenses. So, it appears,
> we should be free to include "MIT" and other
> compatible-licensed code in our CVS and releases, provided
> we make it clear we are thus GPL-ing the combination.

According to a GPL Compliance Engineer from the FSF this is
correct.  I specifically wrote them to ask about releasing a
BSD licensed module, and he confirmed that when released
together with Drupal the collection was GPL'd, but when my
module was downloaded on its own it had the additional
permissions allowed under the less restrictive BSD license.


> So, can we go ahead and put such combinations in CVS?
> Can we consider/propose them for core? 

I think the problem is when people commit changes into CVS --
then there is question as to whether the changes are under
the GPL, or under the specific license of the
module/library/whatever.    All said, I'm very interested to
hear additional feedback on your query.


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