Here is what GNU has to say about the Netscape open source license, now
known as MPL
"The Netscape Public License, or NPL, as it was ultimately designed in
1998, is a free software license--but it has three major flaws. One flaw
sends a bad philosophical message, another puts the free software community
in a weak position, while the third creates a major practical problem
within the free software community. Two of the flaws apply to the Mozilla
Public License as well. Because of these flaws, we urge that you not use
the NPL or the MPL for your free software. "
Here is the major complaint:
"The most serious practical problem in the NPL is that it is incompatible
with the GNU GPL. It is impossible to combine NPL-covered code and GNU
GPL-covered code together in one program, not even by linking separate
object files or libraries; no matter how this is done, it has to violate
one license or the other.
This conflict occurs because the GPL is serious about copyleft: it was
designed to ensure that all changes and extensions to a free program must
be free. So it does not leave a loophole for making changes proprietary by
putting them into a separate file. To close this loophole, the GPL does not
allow linking the copylefted program with code that has other restrictions
or conditions--such as the NPL.
Being incompatible with the GPL does not make a program non-free; it does
not raise a fundamental ethical issue. But it is likely to create a serious
problem for the free software community, dividing the code base into two
collections that cannot be mixed. As a practical matter, this problem is
Solving this by changing the GPL is possible, but that would entail
abandoning copyleft--which would do more harm than good. But it is possible
to solve this problem with a small change in the NPL. (See below for a
specific way of doing this.) "
If I recall rightly, Mozilla recently dual-licensed their software. This,
it seems to me, allows programmers to decide if they want their stuff to
work with GPL (whoops! GNU GPL) and thus give up any proprietary claims on
their work, or, to not work with GNU GPL and retain the opportunity to have
closed source extensions to some other software (read: software other than
that licensed under GNU GPL).
This whole area of licensing gets interesting. Surf the web for software
and you will routinely find whole projects that, when downloaded as a
package, include chunks of software licensed under most all licenses,
including GPL. But, the GPL license seems to forbid such combinations.
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