Re: Should LGPL-3.0 be an exception rather than a main license?


J Lovejoy
 

Hi All, 

Let me sum this up, to make sure we are all on the same page.

LGPLv3 will be on the license list - there is no question there. The question is, now that we have the exceptions listed on their own, should it be there (http://spdx.org/licenses/preview/exceptions-index.html) or remain as a “standalone” license on the main list (http://spdx.org/licenses/preview/)

I don’t think there is a “right” answer here… we can be consistent in how other exceptions are represented or not (ostensibly due to external considerations).  As much as I do prefer consistency, we have already seen before that trying to apply “rules” in a consistent manner to open source licenses and how they are represented is almost impossible.

I believe that historically speaking, LGPLv3 was very intentionally drafted this way with a goal of making it easier to apply and understand (given the confusion over LGPLv2.1), which sort of cuts towards treating it as a true exception (Alan’s theory very interesting, though!)

So, let’s take a look at the two option:

1) To be consistent, it would seem that LGPLv3 is an exception in the same way as these other exceptions.  This would mean it would be listed with the exceptions and to represent LGPLv3 using the License Expression Syntax would look like this:
GPL-3.0 WITH LGPL-3.0

(this feels a bit odd, but it would be accurate technically speaking…)

Or, 

2) We could simply leave LGPLv3 on the main license list (as if it was a standalone license) and thus it would be represented as its standalone short identifier: 
LGPL-3.0

(This would be technically inconsistent with how the other exceptions are represented, but results in an arguably more expected identification via the short identifier.)

I don’t know— as much as I like consistency and accuracy (#1) - the resultant license expression syntax of “GPL-3.0 WITH LGPL-3.0” feels… wrong.  I’d also be afraid that if we went that route it would be confusing, because it’s not what you’d expect and that the community would, well, freak out (possibly justifiably).  As to the latter concern, I just sent Bradley Kuhn an email about this to gain his thoughts, since I have spoken to him a bit about the efforts to improve our list of exceptions.  Thus, #2 just “feels” more appropriate.*sigh*   

In the meantime, I’d be curious to hear thoughts what with the syntax staring at you. 

Cheers,
Jilayne

PS let me just make the prediction right now, that either way, three years from now someone new will point this out and one of us will have to remember this discussion… note: whatever we decide should be summarized somewhere and include a note in the license Notes field...

On Mar 24, 2015, at 8:06 AM, Wheeler, David A <dwheeler@...> wrote:

I agree that the LGPL 3.0 absolutely *should* be on the license list. 
 
--- David A. Wheeler
 
 
From: spdx-legal-bounces@... [mailto:spdx-legal-bounces@...] On Behalf Of Alan Tse
Sent: Monday, March 23, 2015 7:20 PM
To: Dennis Clark; J Lovejoy
Cc: SPDX-legal
Subject: RE: Should LGPL-3.0 be an exception rather than a main license?
 
I think most people will be confused if they’re looking at the License List and don’t find the LGPL3.  
 
I might have missed what we consider an exception (didn’t find a definition on the webpage) but I always considered exceptions as small use case exceptions to an existing license.  The LGPL on the other hand seems more than just a small exception to the GPL and like a whole other license.  
 
To digress a bit more, I always felt it was a marketing strategy to incorporate the GPL so people had to go look and realize there’s a “preferred” license over the LGPL.
 
Alan Tse
Copyright and Open Source Licensing Director
Western Digital Technologies, Inc.
3355 Michelson Dr., Suite 100, Irvine, CA 92612
T:  949-672-7759
F:  949-672-6604
 
 
From: spdx-legal-bounces@... [mailto:spdx-legal-bounces@...] On Behalf Of Dennis Clark
Sent: Monday, March 23, 2015 4:09 PM
To: J Lovejoy
Cc: SPDX-legal
Subject: Re: Should LGPL-3.0 be an exception rather than a main license?
 
Legal Team,  
 
I think that Sam's points about the LGPL 3.0 are technically correct, but given that OSI treats LGPL 3.0 as a license (http://opensource.org/licenses/LGPL-3.0), I think we can also treat it as "an exception to the exceptions" and continue to include it in our license list.  It has become a very popular license (for mysterious reasons) and I think it would just seem really strange to handle it otherwise.  On the other hand, I'm cautiously open to the alternative view if most of the group prefers to redefine LGPL 3.0 as an Exception.
 
Regards,
Dennis Clark
 
 
On Mon, Mar 23, 2015 at 2:59 PM, J Lovejoy <opensource@...> wrote:
Hi Sam,
 
Hmm… great point.  This has not been considered previously and did not really need to be pre-2.0 discussions because the exceptions were not separated out, etc.
 
Our next legal call is on the day we are hoping to go live with 2.0, I think.  So, we can discuss it then (it’s not a lengthy change), but can we get some thoughts on this topic via the email list in the meantime?
 
I think that, technically, this is right and LGPLv3 should probably be on the exception list, instead of listed as a separate license in and of itself.  But that’s just my gut…  
 
thoughts???
 
Jilayne
 

SPDX Legal Team co-lead
opensource@...

 
On Mar 23, 2015, at 10:04 AM, Sam Ellis <Sam.Ellis@...> wrote:
 
Hi,
 
In relation to the SPDX-LL and exceptions, I note that LGPL-3.0 is listed as a full license (http://spdx.org/licenses/preview/LGPL-3.0.html). However the wording of LGLP-3.0 is such that it does not stand alone; it refers to and depends on GPL-3.0 and uses terms such as "supplemented by the additional permissions" and "Exception to Section 3 of the GNU GPL". I therefore wish to raise the question of whether LGPL-3.0 should be on the exception list rather than on the full list. Logically, it seems to be an exception, and yet it is such a mainstream license that I can see an argument for it to be on the full license list. Has this been considered previously?
 
-- 
Sam Ellis (ARM)

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