Licensing Issues

Erik Huelsmann ehuels at
Tue Jun 30 13:02:26 UTC 2015

On Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 2:02 PM, Mark Evenson <evenson at> wrote:

> > On Jun 30, 2015, at 13:50, Pascal J. Bourguignon <pjb at>
> wrote:
> >
> > Hamda Binte Ajmal
> > <hamda.binte.ajmal at> writes:
> >
> >> Hello,
> >> I am using ABCL to run lisp files in my Java code.
> >> ABCL is covered by the GNU General Public License with Classpath
> >> exception, meaning that you can use ABCL in your application without the
> >> requirement to open the sources to your application. So, I conclude the
> >> GNU GPL is not going to effect the license of my Java Code,
> >>
> >> BUT, what about the lisp code I load using ABCL? Would it have to be
> >> released under GNU GPL ?
> >
> > It depends if your lisp code + abcl is a derived work of abcl or not.
> >
> >
> > If your lisp code is 100% conforming code, and therefore can be run
> > unchanged on other CL implementations, you have a good argument that it
> > doesn't make a derived work of abcl, and therefore it's not covered by
> > the GPL.
> >
> > On the other hand, if your lisp code uses ABCL specific features, then
> > it will probably constitute a derived work of ABCL, and will be covered
> > by the GPL.
> By analogy, if I use a GCC specific feature to compile a closed-source,
> commercial product, I have to release that product under the GPL?  That is
> a
> surprising conclusion to me.

Well, that's definitely not the intent of the GNU Classpath license,
because the license is applied to the entire api provided by code in that
project -- it's not restricted to specific parts of the Java API, or at
least, the file doesn't mention it.

Also, I know that the Subversion project uses GCC specific pragma's yet its
Apache license is undisputed.

The ABCL Java FFI is part of ABCL's API, so the intent is and IMO always
has been, for applications to integrate ABCL without impacting the license
of the application itself. That's what the classpath exception is about and
that's how you should interpret it.

I think we need a lawyer…

Or maybe we simply need common sense: there's very little purpose to having
the classpath exception in place if you start applying the restriction that
Pascal describes.


Erik. -- Hosted accounting and ERP.
Robust and Flexible. No vendor lock-in.
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