[Fedora-legal-list] Please define "effective license" (for the love of consistency)

Tom "spot" Callaway tcallawa at redhat.com
Mon Jul 19 13:46:59 UTC 2010

On 07/17/2010 11:45 PM, Orcan Ogetbil wrote:
> However, during the review of the package
> https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=537325
> this issue came up again. Upon Michael Schwendt's warning, I have
> changed the license tag of this package from "GPLv2" to "GPLv2+ and
> LGPLv2+ and GPLv2", since there is no such thing as "the effective
> license".
> However the current reviewer points out that this is in contradiction
> with the guideline
> --
> 2. The source code contains some .c files which are GPLv2 and some other .c
>    files which are GPLv2+. They're compiled together to form an executable.
>    In this case, the stricter license wins, so the resulting executable is
>    GPLv2. The License tag should read: License: GPLv2
>    Note that you do NOT need to list GPLv2 and GPLv2+ in the License tag.
> --
> from https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Licensing/FAQ#How_should_I_handle_multiple_licensing_situations.3F
> So I am back where I started. There is clearly a contradiction between
> what I was advised here on last December and the above guideline.
> Which one is correct?

Well, technically, both are correct.

There is a difference between saying "you do NOT need" to do something
and saying "You must NOT" do something.

When you have a combined work (within the SRPM) that contains files
under the GPLv2, GPLv2+, and LGPLv2+, the resultant binary is
"effectively" GPLv2, because that represents the strictest set of
licensing terms, and by complying with those terms, you also satisfy the
other license terms (GPLv2+ and LGPLv2+).

Obviously, this can quickly get complicated and confusing, but if your
package is a clear compilation dependency for other packages (e.g. a
library), then presenting the effective license can be beneficial to
others attempting to determine cross-package license compatibility.

So, if you are comfortable calculating the effective license and wish to
use that, feel free to do so. If you're not comfortable, or you wish you
be precise in how you populate the License field, go ahead and be exact.


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