Strange LGPL interpretation in FAQ


This means you can use GeoTools as a library but you cannot
incorporate GeoTools code directly into your GLP application. Legally, the
latter amounts to re-licensing GeoTools under a new license and you do not have
the right to do so.

However the LGPL does allow this - see section 3 of
which says:

You may opt to apply the terms of the ordinary GNU General Public License instead of this License to a given copy of the Library. To do this, you must alter all the notices that refer to this License, so that they refer to the ordinary GNU General Public License, version 2, instead of to this License. (If a newer version than version 2 of the ordinary GNU General Public License has appeared, then you can specify that version instead if you wish.) Do not make any other change in these notices.

Once this change is made in a given copy, it is irreversible for that copy, so the ordinary GNU General Public License applies to all subsequent copies and derivative works made from that copy.

This option is useful when you wish to copy part of the code of the Library into a program that is not a library.

So I think we should use wording like:

You can also incorporate GeoTools code directly into your GPL application. Legally, the
latter amounts to re-licensing GeoTools under the GPL, which is specifically allowed
by the LGPL. This re-licensing is one-way, and requires specific actions - see the LGPL.




Ian Turton
September 26, 2015, 1:49 PM

I think the FAQ is correct, in that you can link to GeoTools but you can't copy and paste it in. *We* can relicense the code to GPL if we choose but *others* can't make that choice for us, which is what our FAQ says, and is why the tutorials are PD rather than LGPL so that people can copy and paste them.

Brad Hards
September 26, 2015, 11:22 PM

Ian - I think that others can do so. LGPL is upgradeable to GPL because of Section 3 (which is there because of FSF politics).

The tutorials being public domain means that the sample code is usable in other licensing environments (e.g. Apache, closed source).

Andrea Aime
October 4, 2015, 10:19 AM

Hum... can we get confirmation from the free software foundation? I've seen the text Brad included, but like Ian, the notion that anyone beside the copyright holder can alter the licence via automatic mechanism blows me away...

Brad Hards
October 4, 2015, 9:55 PM

FSF is probably not unbiased here (they want GPL, not LGPL). You could ask the SFLC ( - see "Legal Advice") - again, not without some potential bias, but at least you get a legal rather than philosophical result.

Brad Hards
December 27, 2016, 6:47 AM

This was merged a while ago.




Brad Hards




Affects versions