Subject: Re: Free Software and the Fortune 250
From: Brian Behlendorf <>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000 03:18:04 -0700 (PDT)

On Thu, 6 Jul 2000 wrote:
> The sticker is licensing, specifically the GNU GPL -- pushback we're
> getting is that the prospect doesn't accept licenses whose terms it
> can't modify.  

"whose terms it can't modify"?!  Does that mean it doesn't buy software at
all?  Generally speaking, you can't modify a license without consent of
the other party anyways, so either this company writes all its own
software or they like the ability to "wheel and deal" and look at the
license (or other contract) as a starting point in a negotiation.  

I don't have any links to online docs that talk about corporate vetting of
the GPL, but you can try one of the couple folks you know through CLWG who
have dealt with GPL issues in large companies.

> From the situation as I understand, redistribution isn't so much an
> issue as is simply acceptance of the GPL.  Use is likely to be largely
> internal, possibly limited distribution among subsidiaries, though I'm
> not clear of the details.  

Most likely neither are they, which is why signing up for a license whose
use of terms can be interpreted in a couple different directions may be
what's giving their lawyers grief (that is, if they got past the first
objection and even read the GPL at all).

> In this case, it appears the prospect may be happier to accept software
> licensed under other free software licenses, in particular BSD/MIT style
> licenses.  Anyone else see this pattern?

I could see why they'd accept BSD/MIT - simplicity, nonambiguous terms. I
could see why they'd possibly accept the MPL - much more verbage on the
issues of patents and specifics on what constitutes derivative works. I've
seen large companies be OK with the GPL, but only when they own the rights
to the code outright and can license it under other licenses as well.