On Sun, Feb 8, 2015 at 7:59 PM, Rob Lanphier <robla(a)wikimedia.org> wrote:
Our code is "GPLv2 or later", which is the
functional equivalent of
being multi-licensed under GPLv2 and GPLv3 (and all later versions of
the GPL) Therefore, the set of licenses that "GPLv2 or later" is
compatible with is a strict superset of the licenses that "GPLv3 or
later" is compatible with.
This is not true. The GPLv2 and GPLv3 are incompatible licenses, and if you
read the actual license disclaimer, you will see it is not the "functional
equivalent" of having our code licensed under both.
Rather, what the disclaimer says is that our code is GPLv2 only, *but*,
anybody who modifies or distributes it is free to, at their discretion,
change the license to any later version of the GPL. You legally cannot have
both the GPLv2 and GPLv3 because they are conflicting in their terms.
1. Because that makes our code incompatible with any GPLv2-only code out
2. Why is it a good idea?
In general, our licensing choices should be driven by goals, and it's
unclear what goals are met by moving to GPLv3. It's also unclear what
goals any version of the GPL is actually serving in this particular
context (due to the nature of PHP server side code) but relicensing
MediaWiki at this late stage (beyond v2->later version) is not really
a practical option, so I don't feel the need to belabor this
I've already described the numerous changes and fixes that have been made
in the GPLv3, specifically easier enforcement due to changed policies on
infringement, better international wording, etc. If you'd like to dispute
any of the good ideas I've listed, then go ahead, but I think the
improvements v3 makes are more than enough of a goal.
As for your point on it being useless because of the server-side nature of
PHP, I semi-agree, which is why I proposed the AGPL, but nonetheless the
advantages of the v3 will still help distributors who download MediaWiki
from our site. The server-side nature of PHP has nothing to do with it.
That decision isn't final, and in fact, as Gabriel
noted on that bug,
he's working with the other contributors to relicense it under the
Apache 2.0 license, per a conversation that a bunch of us had at WMF.
In general, we should think about what goal we're trying to address by
using GPLv2+ or GPLv3+ or any other license for that matter. My
personal experience has been that any contribution that has been
compelled by license rather than given of enlightened self interest is
done grudgingly and in a rather useless fashion. There are certainly
copyleft success stories (e.g.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenWrt>), but for MediaWiki, it's
unclear under what possible scenario we'd want to compel GPL
compliance from anyone that wasn't already motivated to work with us
as an upstream.
In general, I believe we should move more of our licensing toward
Apache 2.0. It seems to provide a nice tradeoff between simplicity
and providing some basic legal protections for the projects.
That is quite depressing to hear. MediaWiki is supposed to be an open
source software movement, so I would think one of the goals of our
community would be to preserve that and keep MediaWiki open source, but if
the WMF has some future goals to make its software proprietary, then I can
understand why we might want to aim toward something that allows that, such
as the permissive Apache 2.0.
Stevens Institute of Technology, Class of 2016
Major in Computer Science