[Dnsmasq-discuss] GPL v3

Mike Baker mbm at openwrt.org
Thu Sep 13 11:07:28 BST 2007

I've never really understood the concept of "gpl version x or later",
particularly now that there are incompatibilities between the gpl

Any time you apply more than one license or version you're running the
risk that someone will fork the project or send in patches under the
more restrictive license. If the project was "version 2 or later" and
someone decided to write a few patches and release a new build as
"version 3 or later" you would be unable to merge these patches back
into the "version 2" code. At this point your options are to beg to get
the patches relicensed as "version 2 or later" so they can be merged,
switch the license of the main project to "version 3" (or later), or be
forced to ignore the patches. It all seems rather counter productive.

As to the specifics of the gpl v2/v3 debate, the main issue seems to be
the $(TIVO) clase; "Installation information" found at the end of
section 6 which only applies to a "User product". The clause states that
for any household product, the sources need to be accompanied by
installation instructions detailing how to to install the modified
binaries. Unfortunately, this is a headache for most embedded
programmers since it's common practice to sign or encrypt the firmware
and store the encryption keys in the bios. The reason behind this is
that while the device contains gpl'd software, it also contains
proprietary software; the keys are to protect the proprietary

While I really don't want to be dragged into a debate about the TIVO
clause, I think it's important to point it out. If the authors feel that
they've been screwed by a (certain) commercial company leveraging their
project, they can relicense as gpl v3 to prevent it to some extent, but
as soon as the software is licensed as v3 it will block (any) commercial
developers from being able to (use and) contribute to the project; the
double-edged sword that Kaloz made reference to in a previous email.

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