Celebrating 20 years of community-led development "The Apache Way"
The Free Software Foundation considers the Apache License, Version 2.0 to be a free software license, compatible with version 3 of the GPL. The Software Freedom Law Center provides practical advice for developers about including permissively licensed source.
Apache 2 software can therefore be included in GPLv3 projects, because the GPLv3 license accepts our software into GPLv3 works. However, GPLv3 software cannot be included in Apache projects. The licenses are incompatible in one direction only, and it is a result of ASF's licensing philosophy and the GPLv3 authors' interpretation of copyright law.
This licensing incompatibility applies only when some Apache project software becomes a derivative work of some GPLv3 software, because then the Apache software would have to be distributed under GPLv3. This would be incompatible with ASF's requirement that all Apache software must be distributed under the Apache License 2.0.
We avoid GPLv3 software because merely linking to it is considered by the GPLv3 authors to create a derivative work. We want to honor their license. Unless GPLv3 licensors relax this interpretation of their own license regarding linking, our licensing philosophies are fundamentally incompatible. This is an identical issue for both GPLv2 and GPLv3.
Despite our best efforts, the FSF has never considered the Apache License to be compatible with GPL version 2, citing the patent termination and indemnification provisions as restrictions not present in the older GPL license. The Apache Software Foundation believes that you should always try to obey the constraints expressed by the copyright holder when redistributing their work.
The Apache Software Foundation is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to open source software development. We never knowingly incorporate patented technology in our own products unless such technology has been offered free for everyone.
Please note that this discussion only benefits third parties that produce GPL-covered products. The Apache Software Foundation does not allow its own projects to distribute software under licenses more restrictive than the Apache License, and the Free Software Foundation does not distribute software under the Apache License.
The ASF will not dual-license our software because such licenses make it impossible to determine the conditions under which we have agreed to collaborate on a collective product, and are thus contrary to the Apache spirit of open, collaborative development among individuals, industry, and nonprofit organizations.