Subject: Re: Effect of the MySQL FLOSS License Exception?
From: Zak Greant <>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 14:31:27 -0600

Greetings All,

It is good to see some additional discussion about this, even if it is 
a bit belated. ;)

In way of a brief update, the exception is currently being reviewed by 
our lawyers and then should be going through to our CEO for approval.

If there is feedback that we can incorporate without requiring another 
round of review, we will incorporate it in this version. If it is a 
major change, then into the next version it will go.

On Jun 16, 2004, at 12:29, Rick Moen wrote:
> MySQL used to be under LGPL.  This is a licence exception designed to
> fix some licence incompatibilities accidentally introduced by the
> project's shift to GPL.

This is close to correct. The FLOSS licensing for the MySQL clients was 
the LGPL, while the server was GPL'd. Both were available under 
proprietary terms as well.

>> Term 0 says "you are free to distribute Derivative Works... without
>> affecting license terms of the works", but subterm a says "you obey
>> the GNU General Public License in all respects for ... the Derivative
>> Work".
>    You are free to distribute Derivative Works [...] without affecting
>    the license terms of the works, as long as: [...]  a.  You obey the
>    GNU General Public License in all respects for the Program and the
>    Derivative Work, except for identifiable sections of that work
>    which are not derived from the Program, and which can reasonably be
>    considered independent and separate works in themselves,
> Aside:  The wording reflects a bit of management brain damage:  No use
> of a third-party codebase in a derivative work can "affect the licence
> terms of the work".
> Licensing is under the control of the copyright
> owner.  If you don't own the code, you cannot affect its licensing.
> The most you can do is create a derivative work that, on account of
> licensing conflict, cannot be lawfully distributed (because that would
> violate the third party's copyright, or someone's, at any rate).

Good point. I think that everyone agrees that a license cannot force a 
change the licensing terms of a different work.

While I would like to attribute this clumsy language to someone else, 
the wording reflects my own brain damage. The phrase "without affecting
the license terms of the works" should likely be stated as something to 
the effect of section 2.b* of the GPL does not apply to the work as a 

* You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in
   whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any
   part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third
   parties under the terms of this License.

>> Do I interpret this correctly as: if I combine my BSD code with MySQL,
>> I can keep the BSD license I have, but I have to follow GPL terms
>> including reciprocating for my BSD code?
> No, that is not what it says.  It says (rather clumsily) that if your
> code is reasonably independent, isn't derived from MySQL, and is under
> one of the licences listed in section 1, then you may use it in a
> derivative work with MySQL, despite MySQL being otherwise subject to 
> terms of use.

This was challenging to write. In fact, you may note that we gave up 
and parroted the GPL's language here.

> Essentially, they're trying to retrofit via a licence exception some
> of the licence semantics of LGPL.

Accurately enough stated. We are willing to share with FLOSS 
applications, but we still want a revenue stream via non-FLOSS 
applications. Our licensing is not perfect for this, but it is a work 
in progress that is good enough and is being incrementally refined.

Zak Greant
MySQL AB Community Advocate

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