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Subversion change of license -- where was the discussion?

From: Michael Haggerty <mhagger_at_alum.mit.edu>
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 2009 21:58:13 +0200


In r38370 on 2009-07-08, the Subversion project license was apparently
changed from the CollabNet license to the Apache 2.0 license.

God, how I hate licensing issues and I personally have no particular
objection to this change. But I must have somehow completely overlooked
any discussion on the mailing lists about this change, and now Google
isn't helping me find any discussion of the reasons for this change or
how it was decided. Did I simply miss the discussion, or did the
discussion took place in a loftier forum to which I am not party?

In any case, I have one comment to toss out there (in the sense that one
"tosses" a hand grenade). According to advice that I solicited from
licensing_at_fsf.org with respect to the cvs2svn project, the old CollabNet
license was compatible with GPLv2, whereas the FSF's position is that
the Apache 2.0 license is *not* compatible with GPLv2 (though it *is*
compatible with GPLv3) [1]. Although it is certainly debatable whether
the import of one library by another constitutes creating a derivative
work, this issue will undoubtedly cause concerns among other projects
and distributors (e.g., Debian Linux).

In fact, this incompatibility is already causing consternation in the
Mercurial project, which is GPLv2 but whose SVN->hg convert plugin uses
the SVN Python bindings. A few days ago Matt Mackall disabled the SVN
support in their repo due to perceived license incompatibility.
Analogous problems are imaginable with the git project (also GPLv2) with
respect to its git-svn support.

I can respect a change to the Subversion license, and welcome a change
from the obscure CollabNet license to a better-known license. But I
would hate for the project to stumble into a thicket of licensing issues
without having considered the ramifications.


[1] http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/

Received on 2009-09-27 21:58:29 CEST

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