Re: Combined version of LGPL + GPL 3.0

Philippe Ombredanne

Hey Max,
You wrote:

On Wed, Jul 28, 2021 at 11:01 AM Max Mehl <max.mehl@...> wrote:
In the scope of REUSE we've noticed [^1] that just providing LPGL-3.0* –
as downloaded from SPDX – in a repo does not suffice as it requires its
mother license, GPL-3.0*. LGPL could be seen as an exception to GPL, but
it's not treated as such by the FSF.

Matija and I discussed that with FSF and the different options we have
to suit SPDX, REUSE and other downstreams. We found a compromise: there
is now an officially acknowledged license text that contains both
LGPL-3.0 and GPL-3.0:
Has this been discussed publicly?

Now my request: can we get this combined version into SPDX' license list
data, e.g. [^2]?
I think that you stated explicitly this is not a new license, just a
clarification (optional one?) that providing both texts when
referencing LGPL-3* is better.
How could one ever handle this sanely in practice? If this is not a
new license, why would you need a new license identifier? If this is a
new license, or a new previsously unstated requirement of the LGPL 3
it would need some wide open and public discussion IMHO.

Some examples of the new and updated clarity issues this brings:

Say I stumbled on the text at in some project... is this
project using the LGPL only or the LGPL and the GPL that apply? It is
impossible to disambiguate which one applies short of a statement by
the authors that they mean the GPL not to apply but that only the LGPL
should be considered there and that the GPL text is there only for

What if a project contains both GPL3 and LGPL 3-licensed code? They
could use the exact same text as above and I would still not be able
to disambiguate short of extra statements.

Now say the author added a license identifier in the code saying that
this is "LGPL-3.0-only"... did they forget to reference the GPL text
in the combined text above? Or is this really just LGPL? Or is some
part of the code GPL-licensed but not marked as such? I cannot say for
sure either and I would not trust that. I still need some more
explicit statements to get clarity.

IMHO the status of the LGPL as a self standing text or whether it
needs to be accompanied by the GPL text has been a jolly mess of
ambiguity since the release of the L/GPL3*.

I cannot see how the FSF releasing a text that combines two texts
makes it any better, to the contrary: it just adds even more ambiguity
and confusion. Even more so if there has been no public discussion on
the topic.

I cannot fathom how this kind of confusion, uncertainty and doubt is
helpful to anyone producing or consuming LGPL-licensed code.

Philippe Ombredanne

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