GPL: implications for FreeBSD-on-hardware for sale?

Gary W. Swearingen underway at
Sun Apr 11 07:58:30 PDT 2004

"Paul A. Hoadley" <paulh at> writes:

> Maybe some more specifics would be helpful.  The application is a web
> application.  It may or may not end up open source, but it will be for
> sale, and I don't want it to inherit a restrictive license.

Even BSD licenses are restrictive, and even inheriting a GPL license
is OK to almost everyone, as long as the license doesn't require using
the GPL on the parts of the derivative that they own, which the GPL
doesn't require for some kinds of derivatives.

> So I don't think my application is a derivative work of any of these.

As you define "application" and "derivative", maybe, but consider

First, it could be said that your application (the thing you are
distributing and licensing) is much more than just the code that you
own.  You're distributing a "compilation" which is covered by
copyright law (like any other derivative?); you own copyrights in the
compilation and in parts and others own copyrights in other parts.

Second, those who might sue you (or their lawyers) and courts might
have different definitions of the words.

Third, the license might cause problems for you even if your
application is not a derivative.  (The GPL says "the intent is to
exercise the right to control the distribution of derivative or
collective works based on the Program", possibly making a distinction
between derivative and collective works, but covering both.)

Fourth, copyright law uses the phrase "compilations and derivative
works", seeming to imply that they are different, but treating them
the same, in the most important ways.

BTW, USC 17 has some definitions, but they leave much for lawyers to
argue about.  But it looks to me like all collective works are
compilations and all compilations are derivative works.  I'm sure some
(especially those who've only read the GPL) would disagree.

But that's just my understanding of things; you'll have to rely on the
opinions of yourself and your lawyers.

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