Licensing help in France

Gareth Bowker tgb at
Thu Jun 16 23:39:06 UTC 2005

On Thu, 2005-06-16 at 12:50 +0200, Jeremiah Foster wrote:
> Hello,
> I am including an email from the Fedora users mailing list regarding 
> licensing issues with the GPL. I felt the original poster would get more 
> help here than from the other list where the danger of innaccurate 
> information is somewhat higher.

The usual disclaimers apply - IANAL, seek proper legal advise etc. The
following is my interpretation of the GNU GPL and LGPL as applied to
proprietary software.

> I am asking this list for advise since I don't know where to get help on 
> this issue. I tried mailing the Free Software Foundation but they 
> haven't answered my mail.
> So I am making a product, that was originally meant to be distributed as 
> GPL. Now the buyer asks me to release it under a comercial license. 

What would be helpful at this point would be a description of why the
buyer wants a proprietary licence rather than using the GPL. What
discussion has there been so far?

> Here's the catch: One module of the product uses LGPL'ed code, and the 
> icons used in the product are GPL as well. Would it be possible for me 
> to make a comercial license that says: License for 'module X', and 
> 'icons': GPL License for the total product: not free. Does anyone has 
> experience with this or know where to turn to for these kind of questions?

Code which is under the LGPL may be linked together with proprietary
code. Code (and data, such as icons) which is under the GPL and
subsequently distributed may not. See the respective licences for the
specific details, but provided you meet the criteria set out under the
LGPL module licence (providing object code so that the user may relink
using later versions of the module - you don't specify the language(s)
you're using, incidentally - it's easier to accomplish this with certain
languages than others). Regarding the icons, my opinion is that you
cannot use these unless you can get them under a different licence.
However, the opinion that actually matters in this case is the opinion
of the author of the icons. Have you contacted the author? It's the
intent of the author that actually matters at the end of the day - if
you can get it in writing that they're happy for you to use the icons in
your proprietary application then it'd be difficult for them to sue you

However, I'd still be interested to know why, if the software was
originally intended to be available under the GPL why your buyer has
changed their mind (and what can be done to sway them back again). There
are a few different tacks you could take to try and persuade them, but
if you can give some more background information I/we might be able to
help some more.



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