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Re: MIT, Apache, BSD, GPL, LGPL what the h*ll

From: Greg Hudson <ghudson_at_MIT.EDU>
Date: 2002-07-05 20:43:43 CEST

Disclaimer: I can't claim to totally understand the relationships
between all these database components. I've tried to be clear that
"linking against" is the activity which may violate the GPL, where as
other activities (communicating over network sockets, using one tool to
create another, etc.) generally do not.

On Fri, 2002-07-05 at 13:28, Glenn A. Thompson wrote:
> > Does this have anything to do with Subversion?

> Yes. I'm working on a SQL FS.

Ah, okay, should have realized that. You should feel free to link
against LGPL code, but not against GPL code. Unless the GPL code has a
special exception covering the Subversion code, of course. (I realize
Branko disagrees with this assessment, claiming that he feels the
Subversion code is distributable under the GPL given its current
license, but I think he's in the minority.)

> I don't believe it's an easy answer at all.
> MyODBC is GPL except for ODBC Managers can use another license scheme.
> What is the intent of the exception.

From what you have said, it sounds like they want MyODBC to be usable
with a commercial (or otherwise non-GPL-able) ODBC manager, but not with
a commercial application.

> ODBC exists to provide generic dynamic binding to DBs. This would imply, to
> me at least, that the end user is the "linker" of the code. A programmer is
> merely developing to a standard API. He links to the ODBC Manager. The
> dynamic driver libraries are loaded at the users request.

> Seems a little gray to me.

Arguably, it is a little gray; this sort of situation has never been
tested in court to my knowledge. Still, if you are distributing a
product which can only work by linking GPL code to non-GPL code, you are
at the very least violating the intent of the GPL.

> When two licenses conflict, who wins?

Generally, nobody. Meaning, the resulting product can't be distributed.


> Yes, but developers don't always get what they "thought they asked for" from
> their lawyers.
> I know I've run into this problem:-)

Well, that sometimes happens. But in this case, RMS definitely knew
what he was getting from his lawyer, to the letter. He didn't want GPL
code used in proprietary software products, and wrote a license
accordingly, fully knowing that he was creating a lot of edge cases.

So, either accept that GPL software lives in its own little world
because it wants to, or blame the authors who chose the GPL for messing
things up.

Companies sometimes dual-license their library products under the GPL
(or a similarly restrictive free software license) and a commercial
license. If you wrote the code, you're not bound by the license you put
on it. It's not a terrible revenue model; you get publicity and good
will through the free license, and money from commercial users. This
isn't really what RMS had in mind (he'd rather the GPL library be used
as a club to force commercial users to release their own code), but it
does mean more GPL'd library software, so he doesn't tend to complain

Of course, if you do that, you can't accept GPL'd code contributions
from outside, because then you'd be violating the copyright on that
other person's code when you sold a commercial license.


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Received on Fri Jul 5 20:44:14 2002

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