Subject: RE: Compatibility of the AFL with the GPL
From: "Lawrence E. Rosen" <>
Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2003 17:18:01 -0800

Sorry, John, but the AFL really does allow the Original Work to be
copied or modified, and those copies and derivative works to be
distributed under any license, even (gasp!) the GPL and proprietary
licenses.  The original licensor sets the terms and conditions under
which he will release his Original Work, but lets everyone downstream do
whatever they want with it, AT THEIR OWN RISK and under any license of
their choice.  

Because there's no sublicensing under the AFL, as a practical matter
this really applies only for derivative works and collective works
incorporating the Original Work.  (So I confused you with the term
"re-licensed," for which I apologize.)  Mere copies of the Original Work
remain licensed under the original AFL license, and nothing ever
relieves downstream users from obligations they may owe to the original
licensor of the Original Work.  

Under the AFL, those downstream obligations of the licensee are minimal.
One important one is the prohibition on removing copyright, trademark
and other attribution notices from the source code of copies and
derivative works.  The only downstream license that might be
incompatible with the AFL would be one that required the removal of
copyright, trademark and attribution notices. :-)

If you don't like the concept of letting go all those copyright rights,
then license your works under the OSL instead.  Such works you can't
"re-license" into proprietary products.

/Larry Rosen

> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Cowan [] 
> Sent: Tuesday, March 11, 2003 11:49 AM
> To:
> Cc:
> Subject: Re: Compatibility of the AFL with the GPL
> Lawrence E. Rosen scripsit:
> > ***Anyone*** is free to take software licensed under the AFL and 
> > re-license it under any license, including licenses not 
> containing the 
> > Mutual Defense provision ["to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, 
> > perform, distribute and/or sell copies of the Original Work and 
> > derivative works thereof,..."].  In fact, the AFL permits anyone to 
> > freely relicense their derivative work software under the GPL.
> Do WHUT????
> The powers granted by the AFL certainly don't include, at 
> least not explicitly, the power to relicense.  It is the 
> general understanding of the community that relicensing by 
> anyone other than the copyright owner is not allowed; if it 
> were, what good would the GPL be, or the Mutual Defense 
> provision?  The tortfeasor would simply claim that he had 
> relicensed all your code under the MIT/X license.  (He might 
> need to use a dummy corporation.)
> No, if you want people using the AFL to be able to relicense 
> the code, you need (as a practical matter if not a matter of 
> law) to say so loud and clear, and one has to wonder what 
> good the Mutual Defense provision is at all.
> > So what's your problem?
> Given *that* provision, which is tantamount to licensing 
> under every license existing or to be created later, RMS 
> can't possibly have a problem.  The rest of us might, however.
> -- 
> Do what you will,                       John Cowan
>    this Life's a Fiction      
> And is made up of             
>    Contradiction.             

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