GPL Moving Closer to (One-Way) Apache Compatibility

Lora Bentley

Besides addressing the "ASP loophole," Microsoft/Novell-like agreements and digital rights management, version three of the GNU General Public License will be more compatible with the Apache Public License. Wired reports today that Free Software Foundation officials intend to make the GPL compatible with Apache.


But don't get too excited, writer Scott Gilbertson cautions. For the FSF, "compatibility" does not necessarily create a two-way street. Apparently, it's more like "partial compatibility." If the FSF gets its way, the changes would allow Apache-licensed programs to be included in GPL'ed projects and then released under the GPL. However, GPL'ed programs could not be rolled into Apache-licensed programs and then released under the APL.


Forgive our cynicism, but that stance seems a bit odd coming from the FSF, since the GPL essentially requires that a company incorporating GPL'ed software into a program release the entirety of that program under the GPL. But what do we know?


Not to worry, says Sun Microsystems' Ian Murdock. Even if GPL-Apache compatibility doesn't happen, most open source projects remain separate, so licenses don't "matter as much as they used to."

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