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RE: [TSVN] To GPL or not to GPL

From: <Bill.Hughes_at_cgi-europe.com>
Date: 2005-08-23 12:10:26 CEST

Simon Large wrote:
> Bill Hughes wrote:
>> Has anybody considered using the LGPL instead of either the GPL or
>> Apache license? This would seem to remove some of the concerns over
>> the terms of the GPL while keeping others happy. Possibly a good
>> compromise license?
>
> There are 4 main concerns over GPL.
>
> 1. GPL is incompatible with most other open source licenses.
> We can use
> their code, but they can't use ours without GPLing the whole project.
Which is why I mentioned the LGPL.
This seems to be the most concrete concern over having TSVN under the GPL.
It may also make it easier to use code with other licenses in TSVN.
 
> 2. GPL scares a lot of businesses away from both using and
> contributing to TSVN. Legal departments don't like the 3 magic
> letters 'G', 'P' and 'L'.
The GPL shouldn't worry anybody who merely wants to USE code and not modify
it.
"Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not
covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act of running the
Program is not restricted, and the output from the Program is covered only
if its contents constitute a work based on the Program (independent of
having been made by running the Program). Whether that is true depends on
what the Program does."

Or even those who want to modify it and not distribute it. Fear and lack of
knowledge ("ignorance" seemed a bit emotive) on the part of theoretical
possible contributors seems a bit, nebulous somehow.
Some people even bought SCO linux licenses.
 
> 3. GPL doesn't stop people stealing your code illegally, nor does it
> stop them commercializing it legally - they still have to distribute
> source, but only to their customers, not back to us.
True, but no license stops people stealing your code.
Technically they have to offer the source and supply it if requested by a
recipient of the binary. The customer can then do anything they like which
is permitted by the GPL of course, including giving it away if they wish.
Other licenses make it even easier than the (L)GPL for people to incorporate
your code, look at the BSD license and MS.
 
> 4. GPL'ed code can be used anywhere and doesn't require you
> to say where
> it came from. Other open source licenses do.
And other FOSS licenses also don't require attribution.
It depends in whether you feel credit is important. I don't see how anyone
can legally distribute GPL code without a copyright statement from the
original author stating that the code is under the GPL, which may be
considered as saying where it came from?

> LGPL fixes point 1, but not 2, 3 or 4. Actually, 3 is not a
> reason *not*
> to use GPL, it just explains that GPL is not as bomb proof as is
> sometimes thought.
No license stops people stealing your code.
No law stops people stealing your code.
Laws in general don't stop people from doing things, they provide
punishments for doing those things if caught. e.g. laws against car theft
don't seem to have stopped cars from being stolen.
Using another license isn't going to change this so it's irrelevant.

> And the Free Software Foundation don't really like you using LGPL
> either, which is (presumably) why they renamed it from Library GPL to
> Lesser GPL.
They don't like you using any license other than the GPL at all.
I'm quite certain that while they'd prefer you to use the GPL they'd also
prefer the LGPL to most other licenses, especially proprietary.

I'm not saying that the GPL or the LGPL are perfect, nothing is. For some
purposes the (modified) BSD is good for some applications (but only a few in
my opinion). It's just that the LGPL is a smallish step from the GPL that
address what seemed to me to be the main realistic concern with continuing
to use the GPL. It _might_ be easier to get the OK from contributors for
this change than for any other.

To me, even though I don't really have much of a say, the important things
required for a license for TSVN would be:
1) Changes to TSVN by a 3rd party are available to the general public (in
particular the TSVN devs)
2) The code should not be legally closable. (i.e. no BSD license)
3) TSVN code should be interoperable with code developed under other
licenses while remaining under the license under which it was distributed.

Just my 0.02 Euro

Bill

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Received on Tue Aug 23 12:15:26 2005

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