A dual license system for code libraries?

Florian Snow floriansnow at fsfe.org
Sun Feb 26 13:40:37 UTC 2017


I think you may just need to add additional permissions to the the GPL
which it specifically allows for.  However, you need to contact a lawyer
to figure out the details because I cannot give you legal advice and I
am not even sure that your assumptions about the requirement of the LGPL
apply in your case because I don't know the details.  In any case, there
are plenty of licenses out there and since you can always grant
additional permissions, you can have any degree of copyleft/other
conditions that you could possibly want and that way, you don't
sacrifice license compatibility.

>From a more general perspective, I can tell you this: What you might
want to consider is setting up a CLA that gives you the right to sell
exceptions as long as all the money from those sales goes to some
defined Free Software organization.  That way, you don't need to set up
your own organization, contributors have a guarantee that you won't do
random other stuff with their contributions and if you do, you lose
their contributions.  Perhaps you can specify a fallback license so
people can still use the project as a whole under the free license in
that case.  Again, you will need a lawyer to help you draft such a CLA.
This CLA will make some people not want to contribute, but with your
plan, that is something you need to live with.  As variant of that model
would be to have all developers agree on a case by case basis.  There
may not even be that many contributors to make that difficult.  The
alternative is just a plain Free Software license where the inbound
license equals the outbound license which is pretty much a community
consensus for many projects according to Fontana.

I think you are trying to support Free Software here with a business
model that is really just on the border of being ok.  I'm not even sure
that it is an acceptable business model.  The FSF does not even have any
member projects that they sell exceptions for, so I am not surprised
about them not being able to help you.  The FSFE also does not do any
business of that kind because the FSFE is not about writing software,
but about educating the public about Free Software.  Perhaps you can
contact one of the umbrella organizations for Free Software projects and
see if they are interested.

Happy hacking!

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