Re: Combined version of LGPL + GPL 3.0

Max Mehl

~ J Lovejoy [2021-07-28 17:34 +0200]:
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)
From my understanding, they did not want to treat LGPL-3.0 as an
exception to GPL-3.0. So they turned down "GPL-3.0* WITH LGPL-3.0*".

"GPL-3.0 AND LGPL-3.0" as well as "GPL-3.0 OR LGPL-3.0" is no problem in
the REUSE space. You'd have both license texts in LICENSES/ which is
what is missing if you just mark files as LGPL-3.0.

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
That's interesting. If this was the case, the whole problem would not
exist. However, in the issue I've shared this was identified as a
problem by multiple persons.

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.
Ack that this method could create confusion. However, with the
combination of a concatenated version under "LICENSES/LGPL-3.0-only.txt"
and "SPDX-License-Identifier: LGPL-3.0-only" in the file header, I
cannot see any practical confusion.

Sure, the full GPL text is present in the LGPL...txt file, but given its
file name and the SPDX tag, it should be obvious what's meant.

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.
Our understanding was that SPDX was unhappy with the current situation
but did not succeed in making the FSF change their treatment of LGPL in
either direction (exception or concatenation). That is why we went the
short informal route.

I acknowledge that this was not perfect given the backlash that comes up

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. ;)
Sure, that's also why I propose it here ;)

My availability in August will be close to zero though, but perhaps
Matija can chime in who was present in the call and a leading force
behind this anyway :)


Max Mehl - Programme Manager - Free Software Foundation Europe
Contact and information: | @mxmehl
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