[Haskell-cafe] GPL License of H-Matrix and prelude numeric

David Leimbach leimy2k at gmail.com
Wed Jan 26 06:11:33 CET 2011

On Tue, Jan 25, 2011 at 8:53 PM, John Millikin <jmillikin at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Tue, Jan 25, 2011 at 18:55, Chris Smith <cdsmith at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Licensing with the GPL has definite consequences; for example, that the
> > great majority of Haskell libraries, which are BSD3 licensed, may not
> > legitimately declare dependencies on it.
> >
> What are you talking about? Of course BSD3 libraries/applications can
> depend on GPL'd code.

I am not an IP lawyer, but this is my understanding of the GPL and it's
transitive relationship with bodies of work that aren't GPL'd.

BSD3 doesn't really state anything about what it links with, but the GPL
injects itself into the tree of stuff it's linked with via the derivative
works clause.  The consequence is that the entire derivative work becomes
GPL'd as well, and those distributing the derivative work must adhere to the
terms of the GPL for distribution and provide source.

This is somewhat in the tradition of commercial middleware requiring a
royalty fee or some per-installation licensing when a work is distributed
that uses a particular library with such terms.  In other words transitive
licensing properties are NOT unique to the GPL.

At least that's always been my understanding.  A BSD3 library in isolation
may still remain BSD3, but if it's not useful without being linked to a
GPL'd library, then the point is kind of moot, except that someone is free
to implement a replacement for the GPL'd part to avoid the transitive
properties in the derivative work, in much the same way you could implement
a free version of a commercial library (barring patent or other violations)
to avoid transitive properties of the commercial license.


> The only license Cabal allows that conflicts with the GPL is BSD4,
> which (to my knowledge) is not used by any software on Hackage.
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