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Re: [TSVN] To GPL or not to GPL

From: Simon Large <simon_at_skirridsystems.co.uk>
Date: 2005-08-19 20:06:00 CEST

Nathan Kidd wrote:
> Simon Large wrote:
>
>>"Only the copyright holders for the program can legally authorize
>>this exception. If you wrote the whole program yourself, then
>>assuming your employer or school does not claim the copyright, you
>>are the copyright holder--so you can authorize the exception. But if
>>you want to use parts of other GPL-covered programs by other authors
>>in your code, you cannot authorize the exception for them. You have
>>to get the approval of the copyright holders of those programs."
>>
>>That means that if we continue to use the GPL, then any time we need
>>to add in something which has an incompatible license, we have to go
>>around all the contributors to ask them if it is OK. Admittedly at
>>this stage of the project we are not likely to make significant major
>>additions, but that is not guaranteed. For example, I don't know if
>>the Microsoft Eula on GRETA is compatible, and that is a very recent
>>addition to TSVN.
>
> IANAL, but I think the example exception text at
> http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLIncompatibleLibs is just
> that, an example.
>
> Where it says
>
> "[additionally grant permission to use <Program>]... with code included
> in the standard release of DEF under the XYZ license"
>
> It could instead say:
>
> "[additionally grant permission to use <Program>]... with code included
> in the standard release of libraries listed with their respective
> licences in in 3rdPartyLibraries.txt, included with this distribution"
>
> So contributors only need to once agree that their code can be used with
> 3rdParty libs included at E.g. Stefan's discretion. This does weaken
> the whole GPL business somewhat, but still is better than nothing, IMO.

That's an interesting take on it. IANAL either, so don't know what the
legal standing if such an open-ended statement would be. I suspect FSF
would say that it weakens the license too much, because anyone can
modify 3rdPartyLibraries.txt to add their own MoneyGuzzler.lib file.

> Personally, I'm much more comfortable and inclined to contribute to a
> GPL'd project because there's more assurance that when we all give, we
> get back. SlimyEnterprises can't add in two nifty features (only 1% of
> the work compared to everyone else's) and start selling TortoiseSVN++
> without contributing those nifty-feature changes back. (I think this is
> also what Stefan was saying, in
> http://svn.haxx.se/tsvn/archive-2004-12/0495.shtml)

And quoting from that thread, Stefan wrote:
<quote>
I'm not a lawyer. But as far as I'm concerned: everyone is free to use
whatever part of this project for whatever they like. The only thing I
want to make sure is that if someone else uses parts of this project that:
- proper credit is given, i.e. it's mentioned somewhere that parts are
from TSVN
- if changes are made to those parts (e.g. bugfixes, improvements) that
these changes are sent back to us so we can decide if we want to include
those changes back into TSVN
- the parts from TSVN aren't sold commercially but distributed freely.
That's basically all I want.
</quote>

Both GPL and Apache require proper credit, although I think Apache
allows you more say in how this is done.

No license I know of will force anyone to contribute improvements, and I
don't think either one is better than the other at encouraging people to
do so. Some like GPL and some are scared by it.

Neither license will *stop* parts being sold commercially, but GPL
requires that anyone who does so must also supply the source. Both
require that the license be distributed and proper attribution given. In
practical terms, no company could ever compete with Stefan for
productivity, so a commercial version of TSVN is just not going to
happen. Any commercial product would have to be *much* better to
persuade people to pay, and it is already the best :-)

Subversion is in the same boat here, and as it is not restricted to
Windows it is arguably more prone to being commercialised.

Simon

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Received on Fri Aug 19 20:05:47 2005

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