Does GNU GPL incompatibility mean not ‘open’?


News and commentary that the new Office XML formats are not compatible with the GNU General Public License – and therefore not ‘open’ – prompts Microsoft’s Dare Obasanjo to respond:



“There are two points I’d like to make here. The first is that “being GPL compatible” isn’t a definition of ‘open’ that I’ve ever heard anyone make. It isn’t even the definition of Open Source or Free Software (as in speech). Heck, even the GNU website has a long list of Open Source licenses that are incompatible with the GPL. You’ll notice that this list includes the original BSD license, the Apache license, the Zope license, and the Mozilla public license. I doubt that EWeek will be writing articles about how Apache and Mozilla are not ‘open’ because they aren’t GPL compatible.”


Comments (5)

  1. The problem is twofold. First, half of them can’t make up their minds as to what is "teh free". You will get a different definition of the terms "free" and "open" depending on who you ask and whether or not Jupiter happens to be aligned with Mercury that Tuesday.

    Second, this weird insistence on comparing anything with the GPL, as if someone had declared it to be The Measuring Stick Of Ye Gods. How about I come up with my own cute definitions of copyright and a license to match and demand that everyone use it to determine whether or not their stuff is "free"?

    If anything, the GPL is far more restrictive than a lot of other licenses. I don’t see why it should be used as the standard.

    And yes, it’s kind of dumb that under the FSF’s own definitions Apache and Firefox are not "free enough". It’s the "emperor has no clothes" syndrome. Everyone gives lip service to the GPL when it’s a 10-line Perl script but when push comes to shove the license drafting capabilities of these folks are unparalleled. Even Torvalds has said he would have released Linux under a different license if he had known better.

  2. Dean Harding says:

    Does anybody really listen to Richard Stallman anymore? I mean, the guy lives in a fantasy world!

  3. Joseph says:

    The comment about Linus and the GPL is complete BS. Also firefox is not just MPL, it is tri-licensed under the LGPL/GPL/MPL. So you have a choice of your license.

    The apache license is not consider "not free" by the GPL. You should read before you write: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/license-list.html.