(L)GPL remarks and FreeGIS licensing

Rui Miguel Seabra rms at 1407.org
Wed Aug 13 10:48:46 UTC 2003

On Tue, 2003-08-12 at 15:26, Bernhard Reiter wrote:
> [ I'm also crossposting this to the fsfeurope discussion list
>   as many points are quite general to Free Software licensing. ]

And I'm replying only on the FSFE mailinglist :)

> On Tue, Aug 12, 2003 at 03:07:17PM +0200, Radim Blazek wrote
> as answer to a post On Monday 11 August 2003 09:11 by Jan-Oliver Wagner:
> > Here are some LGPL disadvantages:
> > (by application I mean any application using LGPL library)
> > 1) Staticaly linked application must be probably distributed 
> >    also as source code.

So what? It's their choice to use this code. They could buy that much
more expensive license from somebody else and make statically built
versions (thus these ones could be more expensive).

> >    Yes, I say 'probably', because LGPL is not very clear, and I found 
> >    on the Web two kinds of explanations for article 6. a), one states 
> >    that object code is enough, the second that source code is required.
> >    Also "permit modification of the work for the customer's own use" imposes
> >    distribution of source code, but that would apply to dynamicaly linked 
> >    application as well. 

In the case of the Lesser GPL, what must be kept Free is the software
part licensed under the GNU Lesser GPL. The applications that use it can
be covered by other licenses, most will give their user less Freedom...
a pity for them.

> > 2) The application cannot use any third party libraries or tools
> >    needed to build the application which are not standard part of OS
> >    and cannot be distributed with the application. For example
> >    library which can read proprietary data format, 
> >    available for download on Web, but without permission to redistribute it. 
> >    On Windows, compiler like "Visual C" is also such tool. 
> >    This is of course valid regardless the application is proprietary or free! 

But you don't have a license to redistribute Microsoft Visual C, for
instance, do you? And people _are_ required by law to have a legally
authorised copy of Microsoft Visual C, should they want to use it for
any reason, so how can a library continue to be Free Software if it
depends on a non-Free third party executable? That would kind of destroy
the purpose, now wouldn't it?

> > 3) "You must cause the files modified to carry prominent notices stating 
> >    that you changed the files and the date of any change." this does not block
> >    the use, but it is annoying and extra work.

Well, imagine developer D from company C writes some code W on software
S by date T.

Doing that, you know that on T, D wrote W for S on the behalf of C.

Now imagine that someday you are sued because of copyright violation
over W. You can pinpoint exactly who did it (D), when he did it (T) and
what he did (W on S).

You can now proceed to removal of W and whipping D until he makes some
real W' of his own.

Imagine you never did such a thing... who do you have to pass blame on?

> > If I look around, successful open source GIS projects don't use (L)GPL:
> > GDAL/OGR: MIT/X License
> > Mapserver: MapServer License (almost MIT/X)
> > PROJ4: MIT/X License

What's the definition of success here?

A successful drug dealer surely uses guns, but by holding a gun will I
be a successful drug dealer?
I'd most likely end up shooting myself in the foot.

> > > Finally, I've found no evidence at all that L(GPL) harms the practical
> > > aspects of software. It only protects the freedom - thus if you mean
> > > that the license harms your practice to derive proprietary products from
> > > Free Software then of course you are right. 
> > 
> > The problem is that it complicates/disables the use of the LGPL library 
> > for both free and proprietary programs. 

Of course it adds complexity to linking with the Lesser GPL covered
library. That's an intentional purpose to prevent copyright violation
(making non-Free libraries), while allowing the use of the library.

> > > But in that case your
> > > anyway not interested in the ideas and values of Freedom and Free Software.
> > I am interested in free software when it is feasible and sensible. 

I thought sensibility and feasibility are independent qualities that a
person can have.

If the developers are capable, the software will be feasible.
If the developers are sensible, the software will be sensible.

If the developers care for the Freedom of all the users of the software
they wrote, they will most likely use a Free Software license that will
enforce the continuity of that freedom.

> > I am not interested to force people to do what FSF considers to be the best.

No one forces anyone to do anything.

I'm sure a lot of people don't care about the software license of the
software they use because they don't give a rat's ass to copyright
(which is an artificial government granted monopoly right), that's why
you have a "rampaging piracy". It's not that in some countries 90% (or
more) of the people are evil and rich black bearded pirates with
patch-eyes that think of nothing else than not giving more money to the
starving poor developers that must eat.

It's only that it just isn't natural to not share.

+ No matter how much you do, you never do enough -- unknown
+ Whatever you do will be insignificant,
| but it is very important that you do it -- Gandhi
+ So let's do it...?

Please AVOID sending me WORD, EXCEL or POWERPOINT attachments.
See http://www.fsf.org/philosophy/no-word-attachments.html
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