[jdom-interest] license compatibility question

Jason Hunter jhunter at collab.net
Tue Sep 26 20:39:39 PDT 2000

> I am interested in using JDOM in some open-source development, but 
> I wanted to make sure the licenses were compatible.
> The project I want to which I want to contribute uses the GPL, but 
> I notice that JDOM uses an Apache-style license.  Is this a 
> problem because of the viral nature of the GPL?  Namely, would 
> using JDOM in a GPL app require JDOM to also be GPL?  

JDOM uses an Apache-style license but without the credit clause, and
it's that clause which (at least primarily) keeps the Apache license
from being compatible with the GPL.  In that way the JDOM license is
actually similar the modified BSD license which does qualify as
GPL-compatible.  But it's actually an open question whether the Apache
license without the credit clause would be compatible, because the
Apache license and JDOM license have an additional restriction that
forks can't use the name "JDOM".  I heard rumors Stallman thinks that's
enough to blow the GPL compatibility.

Bottom line is it's not our call to make.  Stallman's opinion is well
respected with regard to GPL compatibility, and so it'd be interesting
to hear what his views are.  At the end of the day though it's really up
to the courts to decide (and none have ruled on anything involving the
GPL yet).  The people you should write to are the ones who wrote the GPL
code.  It's their license you're trying to be compatible with, not ours.

(As an aside, to everyone who is thinking of choosing a license: be
aware that using the GPL license means you can't mix with much of the
open source code out there include Apache code and MPL code.)


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