Free Software Foundation Stance on Combining GPL, MIT and BSD Licensed Works

No Comments

Received: from (unknown [])
by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 261BB175F7
for ; Fri, 6 Mar 2015 02:00:00 +0200 (EET)
X-Virus-Scanned: amavisd-new at
X-Spam-Flag: NO
X-Spam-Score: 2.99
X-Spam-Level: **
X-Spam-Status: No, score=2.99 tagged_above=-9999 required=5 tests=[BAYES_99=3,
T_RP_MATCHES_RCVD=-0.01] autolearn=no
Received: from ([])
by ( []) (amavisd-new, port 10024)
with ESMTP id sVNXB64Hqhm1 for ;
Fri, 6 Mar 2015 01:59:57 +0200 (EET)
Received: from ( [])
by (Postfix) with ESMTP id DDBE5175E5
for ; Fri, 6 Mar 2015 01:59:56 +0200 (EET)
Received: from www-data by with local (Exim 4.69)
(envelope-from )
id 1YTfgH-0006UK-Oc
for; Thu, 05 Mar 2015 18:59:53 -0500
Subject: [ #974583] Re: GPL Related Question
From: "Yoni Rabkin via RT"
In-Reply-To: <>
References: <>
Precedence: bulk
RT-Ticket: #974583
Managed-by: RT 3.4.5 (
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
X-RT-Original-Encoding: utf-8
Date: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 18:59:53 -0500



Please accept our apologies for the delay in getting back to you. We rely on volunteer effort and often have difficulties keeping up with the demand for our expertise.

> Could You please explain, if I'm in violation with GPL v. 3, if my own
> written code and some code that I have downloaded from the net is
> under BSD or MIT license and then the application that I ship,
> contains my BSD-licensed code that links to GPLv3 licensed code and I
> mention in the source distribution of the application that some parts
> of the application are under GPL v3 and some use more liberal license?

> That is to say, is it illegal to bind BSD or MIT licensed code with
> GPL-code and still ship the full source of the application by not
> changing the licenses of the BSD or MIT licensed code?

> Currently it seems to me that the GPL v3 starts to limit the freedoms
> of other, free-er, open source projects.

The GPL limits the creation of proprietary software.

The rest has to do with the technicalities of combining lax and non-protective licenses such as the Modified BSD or Expat license (sometime ambiguously called the MIT license) with a work licensed under the terms of the GNU GPL.

Since both the Modified BSD or Expat licenses are GPL-compatible licenses, you can make a single work which is a combination of GPL, Modified BSD and Expat licensed works. The work, as a whole, would be licensed under the terms of the GNU GPL while each independent GPL-compatible part retains its original license terms; the licenses of
the Modified BSD and Expat works remains intact.

The primary and important difference between the original work (just Modified BSD and Expat licensed) and the new work (Modified BSD, Expat and GPL) is that the new work cannot be made proprietary. This is by design and we don't consider it a limitation, we consider it a feature!

I hope this answer help. I apologize once more for the late reply.

-- I am not a lawyer, the above is not legal advice Regards, Yoni Rabkin



2015_03_06 update

Yoni Rabkin recommended to list the following links:

Comments are closed for this post