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About GPL and proprietary software

I don't feel very confident when it comes to software licenses. But
there are some cases I would like to make myself clear. What I am
particulary interested in is when does GPL license become restrictive?
For example say a company has a proprietary software product that only
works with MySQL and no other database system. Are the following cases
legal?
1) This company sells his product under proprietary license and leaves
it up to the client to set up required MySQL server. Or perhaps helps
the client with seting up MySQL with or without extra fee.
2) Clients pay monthly fee to this company for using their proprietary
software which uses MySQL hosted in the companys server.
3) This company sells his product under proprietary license on the CD
which also includes MySQL as free bonus (with source code).

If these cases are valid, then when does GPL license for MySQL (or any
other software in that matter) become truly restrictive for a
proprietary company?

Kaarel
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Nov 11 '05
39 4240

On 01/09/2003 10:07 Kaarel wrote:
[snip] Licensing is quite difficult to understad (at least for me) yet a
very important aspect of software development. I don't intend to ruine
anybodys day I just want a small discussion which in the end would
explain the cases when the licensing aspect of these two concrete
products will play an important role in developing software.

With the withdrawal of LGPL from MySQL 4.x, you might find yourself either
having to GPL your application or buy a commercial license if your
application has their client libraries compiled in. About 18 months ago,
when I started designing the ERP product I'm currently working on, I
rejected MySQL on purely technical grounds (and that was compared to
PostgreSQL 7.1!). So far, that seems a very good decision. My application
is basically designed to use PostgreSQL (although if someone offered me
enough money, I expect I could port it Oracle or DB/2) and it's BSD-style
license avoids the possibilty of me or my clients having to pay a $400
licence fee to use a "free" program.

--
Paul Thomas
+------------------------------+---------------------------------------------+
| Thomas Micro Systems Limited | Software Solutions for the Smaller
Business |
| Computer Consultants |
http://www.thomas-micro-systems-ltd.co.uk |
+------------------------------+---------------------------------------------+

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Nov 11 '05 #11
On Sun, 2003-08-31 at 21:06, Christopher Browne wrote:
ro***********@c ox.net (Ron Johnson) wrote:
That "_by whatever means_" seems to include "network link", and that
doesn't sound right.


Ah, but in order to use it over the network link you need to be
running their server software, on the one side, and their client
access software, on the other. Both sides are linked to GPL-licensed
software.

Your client software has to link in software belonging to MySQL AB,
and that's where they are now "biting" people on this.

This is one of the reasons why the PHP people removed bundled MySQL
support in version 5 back in June.


Yes, in the specific case of MySQL, but it could also mean IE con-
necting to a GPL web server, or OE speaking to a pop server.

--
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Ron Johnson, Jr. ro***********@c ox.net
Jefferson, LA USA

"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect
liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born
to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their
liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty
lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning, but
without understanding."
Justice Louis Brandeis, dissenting, Olmstead v US (1928)
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Nov 11 '05 #12
On Monday 08 September 2003 19:30, Kaarel wrote:
Your client software has to link in software belonging to MySQL AB,
and that's where they are now "biting" people on this.

This is one of the reasons why the PHP people removed bundled MySQL
support in version 5 back in June.</pre>

Would a perl application using DBI have a similar problem? Or how would
one then legally use PHP with MySQL without GPL-ing your product and
without buying MySQL commercial license?


There might be a "pure perl" DBI driver for mysql, in which case that's
probably under the Artistic Licence. As far as using PHP+MySQL, it's not a
matter of use, but distribution. I can freely download MySQL and PHP, set
them up and build an application in whatever way I like. If, however I
distribute that application, linked to the GPL'd MySQL client then my
application becomes GPL (assuming the GPL is legally valid and I haven't
bought a licence from MySQL).

What happens with an application built on top of MySQL+PHP I couldn't say. I'm
guessing your PHP scripts can be distributed under any licence you like, but
you couldn't distribute MySQL+PHP with them.

Anyway, their intention is that you *can't* distribute your application
without either GPL-ing it or buying a licence. One of the reasons why a BSD
licence is more friendly from a business point of view, although it does mean
companies can release proprietry extensions that they keep private.

--
Richard Huxton
Archonet Ltd

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Nov 11 '05 #13
Richard Huxton wrote:
What happens with an application built on top of MySQL+PHP I couldn't say. I'm
guessing your PHP scripts can be distributed under any licence you like, but
you couldn't distribute MySQL+PHP with them.

Anyway, their intention is that you *can't* distribute your application
without either GPL-ing it or buying a licence. One of the reasons why a BSD
licence is more friendly from a business point of view, although it does mean
companies can release proprietry extensions that they keep private.


And contribute them to the community after 1-2 years, which has happened
often.

--
Bruce Momjian | http://candle.pha.pa.us
pg***@candle.ph a.pa.us | (610) 359-1001
+ If your life is a hard drive, | 13 Roberts Road
+ Christ can be your backup. | Newtown Square, Pennsylvania 19073

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Nov 11 '05 #14
On Mon, 2003-09-08 at 15:25, Bruce Momjian wrote:
Richard Huxton wrote:
What happens with an application built on top of MySQL+PHP I couldn't say. I'm
guessing your PHP scripts can be distributed under any licence you like, but
you couldn't distribute MySQL+PHP with them.

Anyway, their intention is that you *can't* distribute your application
without either GPL-ing it or buying a licence. One of the reasons why a BSD
licence is more friendly from a business point of view, although it does mean
companies can release proprietry extensions that they keep private.


And contribute them to the community after 1-2 years, which has happened
often.


But they don't have to. The Unix Wars were caused by large companies
that took BSD and made proprietary extensions. Thus, there are pit-
falls to both GPL & BSD (not to mention straight-up proprietary
licenses).

--
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Ron Johnson, Jr. ro***********@c ox.net
Jefferson, LA USA

An ad run by the NEA (the US's biggest public school TEACHERS
UNION) in the Spring and Summer of 2003 asks a teenager if he
can find sodium and *chloride* in the periodic table of the elements.
And they wonder why people think public schools suck...
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Nov 11 '05 #15
Ron Johnson wrote:
On Mon, 2003-09-08 at 15:25, Bruce Momjian wrote:
Richard Huxton wrote:
What happens with an application built on top of MySQL+PHP I couldn't say. I'm
guessing your PHP scripts can be distributed under any licence you like, but
you couldn't distribute MySQL+PHP with them.

Anyway, their intention is that you *can't* distribute your application
without either GPL-ing it or buying a licence. One of the reasons why a BSD
licence is more friendly from a business point of view, although it does mean
companies can release proprietry extensions that they keep private.


And contribute them to the community after 1-2 years, which has happened
often.


But they don't have to. The Unix Wars were caused by large companies
that took BSD and made proprietary extensions. Thus, there are pit-
falls to both GPL & BSD (not to mention straight-up proprietary
licenses).


No question about it, but the Internet's ability to share code has
tilted the scales in favor of sharing, I think --- companies get more
out of sharing than they do out of being proprietary (after a certain
period of time), and that period of time is shrinking. For Red Hat, the
time is already zero, and for others it seems to be 1-2 years.

--
Bruce Momjian | http://candle.pha.pa.us
pg***@candle.ph a.pa.us | (610) 359-1001
+ If your life is a hard drive, | 13 Roberts Road
+ Christ can be your backup. | Newtown Square, Pennsylvania 19073

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Nov 11 '05 #16


Kaarel wrote:
This is one of the reasons why the PHP people removed bundled MySQL
support in version 5 back in June.


Would a perl application using DBI have a similar problem? Or how would
one then legally use PHP with MySQL without GPL-ing your product and
without buying MySQL commercial license?


This is the very point of a conversation I had with Marten Mickos, CEO
of MySQL AB Sweden, about the whole license change. I thought there is
no way you sell any product, that can connect to any future MySQL server
using the version 4 protocol, in binary format without the source code
shipped under GPL or ... this is where the conversation faded off
somehow ... and I don't know if MySQL expects you or your customer (who
would actually run their GPL'd MySQL server, your proprietary
application (il)legally connects to ...

I have CC'd Marten in this eMail. I am sure he can explain in detail
what you are supposed to do from now on if you do not want to GPL your
proprietary application written in PHP.
Jan

--
#============== =============== =============== =============== ===========#
# It's easier to get forgiveness for being wrong than for being right. #
# Let's break this rule - forgive me. #
#============== =============== =============== ====== Ja******@Yahoo. com #
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Nov 11 '05 #17


Kaarel wrote:
This is one of the reasons why the PHP people removed bundled MySQL
support in version 5 back in June.


Would a perl application using DBI have a similar problem? Or how would
one then legally use PHP with MySQL without GPL-ing your product and
without buying MySQL commercial license?


This is the very point of a conversation I had with Marten Mickos, CEO
of MySQL AB Sweden, about the whole license change. I thought there is
no way you sell any product, that can connect to any future MySQL server
using the version 4 protocol, in binary format without the source code
shipped under GPL or ... this is where the conversation faded off
somehow ... and I don't know if MySQL expects you or your customer (who
would actually run their GPL'd MySQL server, your proprietary
application (il)legally connects to ...

I have CC'd Marten in this eMail. I am sure he can explain in detail
what you are supposed to do from now on if you do not want to GPL your
proprietary application written in PHP.
Jan

--
#============== =============== =============== =============== ===========#
# It's easier to get forgiveness for being wrong than for being right. #
# Let's break this rule - forgive me. #
#============== =============== =============== ====== Ja******@Yahoo. com #
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Nov 11 '05 #18
FYI

In answer to Kaarel's question

Kaarel wrote:
Would a perl application using DBI have a similar problem? Or how would
one then legally use PHP with MySQL without GPL-ing your product and
without buying MySQL commercial license?

Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL AB Sweden answered and kindly gave me
permission to forward his reply to our General mailing list for this
question appears to be of broader interest:

Marten G. Mickos wrote: Kaarel, Jan

Thanks for your email, Jan!

Our guiding principle is to have all our source code open, and to
offer it free of payment (i.e. gratis) to those who commit to doing
the same. We have concluded that the GPL licence best fulfills this
principle, and that's why we use the GPL.

Therefore the answer to Kaarel's question is:

"Your PHP app that requires MySQL, if distributed, will either have
to be GPL (or another OSI-approved and MySQL-approved open source
licence ) or you will need a commercial licence of MySQL."

Sometimes people say "But I cannot open source my application!" and
they may have valid reasons for this. Our response is then: "If you
have a valid reason not to be open source, wouldn't that same
reasoning apply to us?".

This goes to the core of MySQL AB's business idea of Quid pro Quo -
if you are open source, we are open source - if you are closed
source, we are commercial.

I hope this was an answer to the question. Please let me know if you
have any further questions.
Kind regards,

Marten


--
#============== =============== =============== =============== ===========#
# It's easier to get forgiveness for being wrong than for being right. #
# Let's break this rule - forgive me. #
#============== =============== =============== ====== Ja******@Yahoo. com #
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Nov 11 '05 #19
I still feel MySQL is somewhat overstepping the bounds of the GPL. The
GPL makes it clear that if I don't link to GPL code, I'm not bound by it.

I.e. I can sell closed source PHP code to a customer, let them install
their own PHP/Zend/MySQL server, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE GPL, and then I
can install the encoded PHP and still be in keeping with the requirements
of the GPL.

In fact, one of the requirements of the GPL is that you can't just add
requirements where you see fit. I.e. "your PHP app is commercial, it's
not linked to our GPL code, but you HAVE to GPL it or buy a commercial
license" violates the GPL itself.

On Sat, 20 Sep 2003, Jan Wieck wrote:
FYI

In answer to Kaarel's question

Kaarel wrote:
Would a perl application using DBI have a similar problem? Or how would
one then legally use PHP with MySQL without GPL-ing your product and
without buying MySQL commercial license?

Marten Mickos, CEO of MySQL AB Sweden answered and kindly gave me
permission to forward his reply to our General mailing list for this
question appears to be of broader interest:

Marten G. Mickos wrote:
Kaarel, Jan

Thanks for your email, Jan!

Our guiding principle is to have all our source code open, and to
offer it free of payment (i.e. gratis) to those who commit to doing
the same. We have concluded that the GPL licence best fulfills this
principle, and that's why we use the GPL.

Therefore the answer to Kaarel's question is:

"Your PHP app that requires MySQL, if distributed, will either have
to be GPL (or another OSI-approved and MySQL-approved open source
licence ) or you will need a commercial licence of MySQL."

Sometimes people say "But I cannot open source my application!" and
they may have valid reasons for this. Our response is then: "If you
have a valid reason not to be open source, wouldn't that same
reasoning apply to us?".

This goes to the core of MySQL AB's business idea of Quid pro Quo -
if you are open source, we are open source - if you are closed
source, we are commercial.

I hope this was an answer to the question. Please let me know if you
have any further questions.
Kind regards,

Marten


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Nov 11 '05 #20

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