Re: Combined version of LGPL + GPL 3.0

J Lovejoy

Hi Max

On 7/28/21 9:08 AM, Max Mehl wrote:
Do I understand correctly that FSF still doesn't think of LGPL-3.0 as an
exception to GPL-3.0 (even though functionally and structurally it is) 
and thus wants us all now to identify LGPL-3.0 as a conjunctive license 
expression, using and?
Yes, that was a suggestion made by Matija in the discussion we've had.
It was turned down by FSF.
to clarify: the FSF turned down GPL-3.0* WITH LGPL-3.0* or
GPL-3.0* AND LGPL-3.0*
(as you understand it, not asking you to speak for the FSF)

What is the implication of just LGPL-3.0 at this point, then? What 
happens in terms of backward compatibility for everyone already using 
that identifier?

I appreciate you looking into this, but it really would have helped to 
be involved.
We didn't think this was so controversial to be honest.
Having the discussion and getting input from the FSF isn't controversial. It's the order of events and mode of comms that is not ideal. :)

Again, my point of view is that this improves the situation for users,
especially those of REUSE: so far, when adding the LGPL-3.0 license from
SPDX to their repo for LGPL-3.0 licensed code, the license text was
incomplete as it required the GPL-3.0 license to be present as well.
That's unintuitive and would have required special clauses in tooling
like REUSE.

Now, we have a concatenated version. The license effectively did not
change from my perspective, now it's just complete and intuitive. But
From a practical perspective: the LGPL-3.0 clearly states at the top, "This version of the GNU Lesser General Public License incorporates the terms and conditions of version 3 of the GNU General Public License, supplemented by the additional permissions listed below."
It is not uncommon for legal agreements to reference, by title or URL, another document that is incorporated by such reference. Thus, not actually including the text of GPL-3.0 does not make the LGPL-3.0 incomplete.

I have seen, in practice, people include the text of both in the COPYING and COPYING.LGPL files - which has made me take pause wondering - are some files under one and some under another or is it really just LGPL-3.0? Having an SPDX identifier in the actual files denoting "LGPL-3.0*" takes care of any confusion there.

Please note that the official LGPL text by FSF has not been altered. The
concatenated version is an alternative format.

As had been discussed here before, LGPL more aptly belongs on the 
exceptions list to be used with the WITH operator.
Again, full ack. But my understanding was that SPDX did not want to go
this route as the license steward (FSF) does not consider it an
exception but a separate license.
That's pretty much right. I don't recall if we ever really asked FSF directly, to be honest!

In any case, any change like this is not inconsequential for existing 
users of SPDX and all scenarios need to be fully discussed (as we 
learned last time we made a major change in our identifiers for the 
FSF). Is this change initiated by REUSE or FSF?
I cannot speak for FSF, just REUSE and the FSFE, REUSE's coordinator.

REUSE obviously does not intent to change SPDX identifiers or cause
compliance issues. I, too, dislike the -only/-or-later special cases,
which is also why my motivation was to get rid of this special case that
two license texts for one license have to be shipped. 

I am afraid that compliance issues have been caused *before* this change
as the downloaded LGPL-3.0 license was not complete.
By compliance issues, do you mean compliance with the REUSE spec?

I guess the other point here is that - in my mind, using REUSE, as a spec to provide license info, etc., should require SPDX and FSF to make some kind of change. That seems a bit backwards.

In any case, I think it's good to have the discussion with all interested parties, even if we got to it in a 'round about way. ;)



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