By using this site, you agree to our updated Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. Manage your Cookies Settings.
444,246 Members | 1,451 Online
Bytes IT Community
+ Ask a Question
Need help? Post your question and get tips & solutions from a community of 444,246 IT Pros & Developers. It's quick & easy.

Open Source License Question

P: n/a
I'd like to formalise slightly the license I release my projects
under. At the moment it's 'free to use, modify, distribute and
relicense'. This is basically fine as I don't want t oprevent people
using my work in commercial settings - but I would like to retain the
right to be identified as the author. I'd also like to prevent people
selling derivative works where my stuff forms the substantial part of
the poduct.

I'd prefer to use an OSI approved license - but it's not essential.
I've been browsing through them and I can't quite see any that
*exactly* fits the bill. Before I draft my own I wondered if anyone
had a reccomendation.

I don't need to require people to make a list of amendments if they
change things. This puts the Python license out. I also don't mind
people relicensing derivative works - a simple thanks in the
documentation and a link to the homepage is my basic requirement.
Regards,

Fuzzy
http://www.voidspace.org.uk/atlantib...thonutils.html
Jul 18 '05 #1
Share this Question
Share on Google+
34 Replies


P: n/a
Hi,

Michael Foord wrote:
I'd also like to prevent people
selling derivative works where my stuff forms the substantial part of
the poduct.

I'd prefer to use an OSI approved license - but it's not essential.


These two don't go together. Read "6. No Discrimination Against Fields
of Endeavor" in "The Open Source Definition"[0].

J

[0] http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php
Jul 18 '05 #2

P: n/a
Joachim Bowman wrote:
These two don't go together. Read "6. No Discrimination Against Fields
of Endeavor" in "The Open Source Definition"[0]. [0] http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php


Yay, another thread on software licensing.

By the way Fuzzy, just release your software with your own
licensing scheme. If you don't like any of the available OSI
licenses then don't use them, as simple as that.

On one hand "OSI approved" means very little on the other
people do not completely understand these licenses anyway,
the long, recurrent GPL related threads demonstrate that.

Istvan.
Jul 18 '05 #3

P: n/a
Istvan Albert:
By the way Fuzzy, just release your software with your own
licensing scheme. If you don't like any of the available OSI
licenses then don't use them, as simple as that.


Then you receive boring mails about what exactly your license means and
"why don't you change the license to something I know like the GPL"? License
questions must be the most boring part of running an OS project and I would
love to be able to just renounce copyright on my work but it no longer
appears possible.

Neil

Jul 18 '05 #4

P: n/a
Michael Foord wrote:
I'd also like to prevent people
selling derivative works where my stuff forms the substantial part of
the product.


If you can get yourself over this philosophical hump, you're
all set.

Can you see it differently, sort of like "if someone else is
selling something based largely on my work, they've just
identified a nice juicy market which I could get into very
easily"? And as the original author, you might even be
able to steal their customers from them without much effort.

-Peter
Jul 18 '05 #5

P: n/a
Neil Hodgson wrote:
I would
love to be able to just renounce copyright on my work but it no longer
appears possible.


I haven't been trying to keep up to date on this issue, but these
guys seem to feel there is something along those lines that can be done:
http://creativecommons.org/ (Specifically,
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/ )

By how far does that miss your mark?

-Peter
Jul 18 '05 #6

P: n/a
Michael, I have one comment in-line (see below), but other than that I can
only say that I chose GPL for my own project. It may discourage use of my
code for commercial purposes but it might even be pretentious to expect that
something like that would ever happen. On the other hand, I was more
interested in the advantages of open-source and I wanted to enforce that as
much as possible. I did some research of my own at the time (recently,
actually) but I didn't go much into details and I didn't study other
licenses in detail either, but I chose GPL in large part because it is the
most widely used.

I tried to find some of the web pages that I read when I was doing my
research but I couldn't. However, I stumbled upon an article that I didn't
see before and that is very much in line with my thoughts. Here's a link:
http://www.dwheeler.com/essays/gpl-compatible.html.

Hope this helps,

Dan

"Michael Foord" <fu******@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:6f**************************@posting.google.c om...
I'd like to formalise slightly the license I release my projects
under. At the moment it's 'free to use, modify, distribute and
relicense'. This is basically fine as I don't want t oprevent people
using my work in commercial settings - but I would like to retain the
right to be identified as the author. I'd also like to prevent people
selling derivative works where my stuff forms the substantial part of
the poduct.
Michael, I think it's going to be hard to get what you want. I don't see
how you can give a lot of freedom ("I don't want to prevent people using my
work in commercial settings") and, at the same time, achieve something like
"to prevent people selling derivative works where my stuff forms the
substantial part of the poduct". I'm no lawyer, but I don't think you can
define in a license what is a "substantial part of the product".
I'd prefer to use an OSI approved license - but it's not essential.
I've been browsing through them and I can't quite see any that
*exactly* fits the bill. Before I draft my own I wondered if anyone
had a reccomendation.

I don't need to require people to make a list of amendments if they
change things. This puts the Python license out. I also don't mind
people relicensing derivative works - a simple thanks in the
documentation and a link to the homepage is my basic requirement.
Regards,

Fuzzy
http://www.voidspace.org.uk/atlantib...thonutils.html

Jul 18 '05 #7

P: n/a
Peter Hansen wrote:

I haven't been trying to keep up to date on this issue, but these
guys seem to feel there is something along those lines that can be done:
http://creativecommons.org/ (Specifically,


IMO the problem with the licenses (the CC is no help in that)
is that the terms are to vague. It is very easy to define
what it means to give away all rights, but for anything more
complicated it bogs down quickly:

What is a derivative work? When is attribution properly done?
What is a commercial use? What is fair use?

Istvan.
Jul 18 '05 #8

P: n/a
On Wed, 27 Oct 2004 13:09:51 +0000, Neil Hodgson wrote:
I would
love to be able to just renounce copyright on my work but it no longer
appears possible.


To the best of my knowledge, nothing prevents you from doing that. Usually
all you need is a "This work is placed in the public domain by the
author", and it would probably be a good idea to add a date and a name,
though later modifiers can freely remove it.

As long as you understand that if someone uses your software to power
their Alan Parsons Project "Laser" and holds the Earth hostage for ONE
MEEEEEEELION DOLLARS that you have no recourse whatsoever, that's fine.
(Obviously an extreme, but it is worth pointing out the relinquishing all
rights really means *all* rights; I've seen too many people who really
didn't get that. I don't mean to imply anything about you personally,
Neil, this is just one of my reflexive comments I make on this topic.)
Jul 18 '05 #9

P: n/a
Jeremy Bowers wrote:
On Wed, 27 Oct 2004 13:09:51 +0000, Neil Hodgson wrote:
I would
love to be able to just renounce copyright on my work but it no longer
appears possible.

To the best of my knowledge, nothing prevents you from doing that.


In Germany, copyright law prevents you from doing that. There is no
notion of public domain (Gemeinfreiheit); this absence follows from
from §29 UrhG. You simply continue to remain the Urheber (copyright
holder) of some work, no matter what you declare.

Regards,
Martin
Jul 18 '05 #10

P: n/a
"Dan Perl" <da*****@rogers.com> wrote in message news:<97********************@rogers.com>...
Michael, I have one comment in-line (see below), but other than that I can
only say that I chose GPL for my own project. It may discourage use of my
code for commercial purposes but it might even be pretentious to expect that
something like that would ever happen.
A lot of people use python as part of their job and are active
participants in teh python community. A lot of what I write are
library modules to do a particular job. Using the GPL means someone is
unable to use your work in a business setting. i don't expect other
people to sell products containing my work - but neither do I want to
prevent them from being able to use it.
On the other hand, I was more
interested in the advantages of open-source and I wanted to enforce that as
much as possible. I did some research of my own at the time (recently,
actually) but I didn't go much into details and I didn't study other
licenses in detail either, but I chose GPL in large part because it is the
most widely used.

I tried to find some of the web pages that I read when I was doing my
research but I couldn't. However, I stumbled upon an article that I didn't
see before and that is very much in line with my thoughts. Here's a link:
http://www.dwheeler.com/essays/gpl-compatible.html.
Sure - if I allow my work to be relicensed then it will be GPL
compatible. I don't like the GPL itself.

Hope this helps,

Dan

"Michael Foord" <fu******@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:6f**************************@posting.google.c om...
I'd like to formalise slightly the license I release my projects
under. At the moment it's 'free to use, modify, distribute and
relicense'. This is basically fine as I don't want t oprevent people
using my work in commercial settings - but I would like to retain the
right to be identified as the author. I'd also like to prevent people
selling derivative works where my stuff forms the substantial part of
the poduct.


Michael, I think it's going to be hard to get what you want. I don't see
how you can give a lot of freedom ("I don't want to prevent people using my
work in commercial settings") and, at the same time, achieve something like
"to prevent people selling derivative works where my stuff forms the
substantial part of the poduct". I'm no lawyer, but I don't think you can
define in a license what is a "substantial part of the product".


I've done some legal training - English law can be reasonably sensible
when it comes to definitions of words. You could even pin it down to
something as specific as 'more than 30% of the lines of source code'.
In programming terms it's a meaningless measure - but you have to
start somewhere. I don't think I can afford to sue anyone
anyway...........

Regards,
Fuzzy

I'd prefer to use an OSI approved license - but it's not essential.
I've been browsing through them and I can't quite see any that
*exactly* fits the bill. Before I draft my own I wondered if anyone
had a reccomendation.

I don't need to require people to make a list of amendments if they
change things. This puts the Python license out. I also don't mind
people relicensing derivative works - a simple thanks in the
documentation and a link to the homepage is my basic requirement.
Regards,

Fuzzy
http://www.voidspace.org.uk/atlantib...thonutils.html

Jul 18 '05 #11

P: n/a
Following a link in the article that I was pointing to, I found yet another
interesting article. See especially the "Choosing a License" section in
http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/opens...ok/perens.html. I didn't know
about the X license before, but it sounds intriguing. Michael, you may be
interested in that or in LGPL.

Dan

"Dan Perl" <da*****@rogers.com> wrote in message
news:97********************@rogers.com...
Michael, I have one comment in-line (see below), but other than that I can
only say that I chose GPL for my own project. It may discourage use of my
code for commercial purposes but it might even be pretentious to expect
that something like that would ever happen. On the other hand, I was more
interested in the advantages of open-source and I wanted to enforce that
as much as possible. I did some research of my own at the time (recently,
actually) but I didn't go much into details and I didn't study other
licenses in detail either, but I chose GPL in large part because it is the
most widely used.

I tried to find some of the web pages that I read when I was doing my
research but I couldn't. However, I stumbled upon an article that I
didn't see before and that is very much in line with my thoughts. Here's
a link: http://www.dwheeler.com/essays/gpl-compatible.html.

Hope this helps,

Dan

"Michael Foord" <fu******@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:6f**************************@posting.google.c om...
I'd like to formalise slightly the license I release my projects
under. At the moment it's 'free to use, modify, distribute and
relicense'. This is basically fine as I don't want t oprevent people
using my work in commercial settings - but I would like to retain the
right to be identified as the author. I'd also like to prevent people
selling derivative works where my stuff forms the substantial part of
the poduct.


Michael, I think it's going to be hard to get what you want. I don't see
how you can give a lot of freedom ("I don't want to prevent people using
my work in commercial settings") and, at the same time, achieve something
like "to prevent people selling derivative works where my stuff forms the
substantial part of the poduct". I'm no lawyer, but I don't think you can
define in a license what is a "substantial part of the product".
I'd prefer to use an OSI approved license - but it's not essential.
I've been browsing through them and I can't quite see any that
*exactly* fits the bill. Before I draft my own I wondered if anyone
had a reccomendation.

I don't need to require people to make a list of amendments if they
change things. This puts the Python license out. I also don't mind
people relicensing derivative works - a simple thanks in the
documentation and a link to the homepage is my basic requirement.
Regards,

Fuzzy
http://www.voidspace.org.uk/atlantib...thonutils.html


Jul 18 '05 #12

P: n/a
Joachim Bowman <us**********@spamgourmet.com> wrote in message news:<2u*************@uni-berlin.de>...
Hi,

Michael Foord wrote:
I'd also like to prevent people
selling derivative works where my stuff forms the substantial part of
the poduct.

I'd prefer to use an OSI approved license - but it's not essential.
These two don't go together. Read "6. No Discrimination Against Fields
of Endeavor" in "The Open Source Definition"[0].


I don't see a conflict at all on that point.....

regards,

Fuzzy
J

[0] http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php

Jul 18 '05 #13

P: n/a
Peter Hansen <pe***@engcorp.com> wrote in message news:<_-********************@powergate.ca>...
Neil Hodgson wrote:
I would
love to be able to just renounce copyright on my work but it no longer
appears possible.
I haven't been trying to keep up to date on this issue, but these
guys seem to feel there is something along those lines that can be done:
http://creativecommons.org/ (Specifically,
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/ )

By how far does that miss your mark?


Not bad. Their most permissive 'by attribution', which is just a step
beond public domain is better for me I think.

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Thanks.

Fuzzy
-Peter

Jul 18 '05 #14

P: n/a
Jeremy Bowers wrote:
On Wed, 27 Oct 2004 13:09:51 +0000, Neil Hodgson wrote:
I would
love to be able to just renounce copyright on my work but it no longer
appears possible.

To the best of my knowledge, nothing prevents you from doing that. Usually
all you need is a "This work is placed in the public domain by the
author", and it would probably be a good idea to add a date and a name,
though later modifiers can freely remove it.


IANAL. TINLA.

Actually, in the US, nothing *allows* you to release something into the
public domain. For new works, it's a category that only exists for works
whose copyright has expired by time or works created by the US government.

Even when a work is legitimately public domain in the US, it is somewhat
murky whether such status exists in other Berne Convention countries, too.

In short, the concept of dedicating something to the public domain is so
murky that I've abandoned it. Slapping an MIT license on my work is so
much easier and clearer.
As long as you understand that if someone uses your software to power
their Alan Parsons Project "Laser" and holds the Earth hostage for ONE
MEEEEEEELION DOLLARS that you have no recourse whatsoever, that's fine.
(Obviously an extreme, but it is worth pointing out the relinquishing all
rights really means *all* rights;


That's not *quite* true. Even for works that have unambiguously fallen
into the public domain, the author retains certain rights called "moral
rights." For example, it is impermissible to change a public domain work
and still claim that the author wrote the whole work including the
changes.

--
Robert Kern
rk***@ucsd.edu

"In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
-- Richard Harter
Jul 18 '05 #15

P: n/a
Dan Perl wrote:
Michael, I have one comment in-line (see below), but other than that I can
only say that I chose GPL for my own project. It may discourage use of my
code for commercial purposes but it might even be pretentious to expect that
something like that would ever happen. On the other hand, I was more
interested in the advantages of open-source and I wanted to enforce that as
much as possible. I did some research of my own at the time (recently,
actually) but I didn't go much into details and I didn't study other
licenses in detail either, but I chose GPL in large part because it is the
most widely used.


This seems like an appropriate post to which to attach a reference
to a nice article contrasting the GPL and the Mozilla Public License
(MPL): http://croftsoft.com/library/tutorials/gplmpl/

Summary of that essay, in the words of its author:
"I state in this essay that MPL is more free and open than GPL."

-Peter
Jul 18 '05 #16

P: n/a

"Michael Foord" <fu******@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:6f**************************@posting.google.c om...
"Dan Perl" <da*****@rogers.com> wrote in message
news:<97********************@rogers.com>...
Michael, I have one comment in-line (see below), but other than that I
can
only say that I chose GPL for my own project. It may discourage use of
my
code for commercial purposes but it might even be pretentious to expect
that
something like that would ever happen.


A lot of people use python as part of their job and are active
participants in teh python community. A lot of what I write are
library modules to do a particular job. Using the GPL means someone is
unable to use your work in a business setting. i don't expect other
people to sell products containing my work - but neither do I want to
prevent them from being able to use it.


Fair enough. LGPL, X, or BSD should allow you to do that.
On the other hand, I was more
interested in the advantages of open-source and I wanted to enforce that
as
much as possible. I did some research of my own at the time (recently,
actually) but I didn't go much into details and I didn't study other
licenses in detail either, but I chose GPL in large part because it is
the
most widely used.

I tried to find some of the web pages that I read when I was doing my
research but I couldn't. However, I stumbled upon an article that I
didn't
see before and that is very much in line with my thoughts. Here's a
link:
http://www.dwheeler.com/essays/gpl-compatible.html.


Sure - if I allow my work to be relicensed then it will be GPL
compatible. I don't like the GPL itself.

Hope this helps,

Dan

"Michael Foord" <fu******@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:6f**************************@posting.google.c om...
> I'd like to formalise slightly the license I release my projects
> under. At the moment it's 'free to use, modify, distribute and
> relicense'. This is basically fine as I don't want t oprevent people
> using my work in commercial settings - but I would like to retain the
> right to be identified as the author. I'd also like to prevent people
> selling derivative works where my stuff forms the substantial part of
> the poduct.


Michael, I think it's going to be hard to get what you want. I don't see
how you can give a lot of freedom ("I don't want to prevent people using
my
work in commercial settings") and, at the same time, achieve something
like
"to prevent people selling derivative works where my stuff forms the
substantial part of the poduct". I'm no lawyer, but I don't think you
can
define in a license what is a "substantial part of the product".


I've done some legal training - English law can be reasonably sensible
when it comes to definitions of words. You could even pin it down to
something as specific as 'more than 30% of the lines of source code'.
In programming terms it's a meaningless measure - but you have to
start somewhere. I don't think I can afford to sue anyone
anyway...........


I saw basically two messages in the articles that I have quoted. One was
for GPL-compatibility, but the other one was to not write your own license.
I think other people also have been giving a warning about that in this
thread. I'll give you credit for having some legal training and I will
assume that you can do a good job at defining a license. However, think of
it this way. No matter how good a job you can do at writing it, most people
will not be good enough at interpreting it. You are trying to allow some
commercial use of your code, but you may end up driving people away from
using it, both for commercial and OS purposes. Many people will just avoid
it if it is not a license that they understand and that they are not
familiar with.

My 2 cents.

Dan
Jul 18 '05 #17

P: n/a
Peter Hansen:
I haven't been trying to keep up to date on this issue, but these
guys seem to feel there is something along those lines that can be done:
http://creativecommons.org/ (Specifically,
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/ )

By how far does that miss your mark?


It appears to be the same as just declaring that your work is in the
public domain. Since you still own and can not relinquish copyright, there
is nothing to stop you changing your mind and requiring payment from those
who believed your declaration.

Neil
Jul 18 '05 #18

P: n/a
Peter Hansen wrote:
This seems like an appropriate post to which to attach a reference
to a nice article contrasting the GPL and the Mozilla Public License
(MPL): http://croftsoft.com/library/tutorials/gplmpl/

Summary of that essay, in the words of its author:
"I state in this essay that MPL is more free and open than GPL."


Thanks for this reference and the one to Creative Commons. Is there a
good mailing list or on-line forum appropriate for discussing licensing
issues? I wouldn't mind discussing my questions here as I have the
highest regard for the participants in c.l.p, but my questions are
mostly off topic for this list. I'm still struggling with the copyleft
vs non-copyleft issue, for example, and there may be a more appropriate
place to discuss this.

Donnal Walter
Arkansas Children's Hospital
Jul 18 '05 #19

P: n/a
Donnal Walter wrote:
Thanks for this reference and the one to Creative Commons. Is there a
good mailing list or on-line forum appropriate for discussing licensing
issues? I wouldn't mind discussing my questions here as I have the
highest regard for the participants in c.l.p, but my questions are
mostly off topic for this list. I'm still struggling with the copyleft
vs non-copyleft issue, for example, and there may be a more appropriate
place to discuss this.


http://www.opensource.org/licenses/#email

I do recommend reading some of the archives first. Some of your
questions have been tread over many times on that list.

--
Robert Kern
rk***@ucsd.edu

"In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
-- Richard Harter
Jul 18 '05 #20

P: n/a

Hi, I was just browsing the group as a newbie to python, and I would
hate to be thought (or be baited by) a FOSS licensing troll with my
first post, so I apologize if these issues have been gone over already;
in fact several people have said that they have, but I am compelled to
reply to this thread:

Peter Hansen wrote:
Dan Perl wrote:
Michael, I have one comment in-line (see below), but other than that I
can only say that I chose GPL for my own project. It may discourage
use of my code for commercial purposes

!??

I can only assume you're referring to the restriction that authors of
non-free software can't link to your libraries

With your code under the GPL, anybody can use your code for commercial
purposes, or any other purposes. Anybody can sell it, anybody can link
to it and sell the derivative work, with the provision that in that case
they use the GPL for that derivitave work

This seems like an appropriate post to which to attach a reference
to a nice article contrasting the GPL and the Mozilla Public License
(MPL): http://croftsoft.com/library/tutorials/gplmpl/

Summary of that essay, in the words of its author:


This is a very misleading article to point someone to.

in the words of its author:

"The GPL prevents code from being sold by itself or as part of a larger
work."

This is thoroughly false. There is no restriction on selling GPLed
software; from the FSF GNU GPL FAQ:
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq....eGPLAllowMoney

"Does the GPL allow me to sell copies of the program for money?
Yes, the GPL allows everyone to do this. The right to sell copies
is part of the definition of free software. Except in one special
situation, there is no limit on what price you can charge. (The one
exception is the required written offer to provide source code that must
accompany binary-only release.)"
He continues,

"However, it leaves the door open for the authors to commercially sell
the code under different licensing terms if they so choose.
For example, this can easily occur:

1. a single author may initially release code as GPL;
2. the author later decides that the code has commercial viability;
3. the author stops distributing the code with the GPL.
4. the author then reissues the exact same code with a fee-based
license.

What does this mean? It means that the GPL is a nice hedge for an author
or organization who wants to reserve the exclusive right to commercially
sell the software at some future point without competition."
This argument is expanded on in some detail; but relies on two
misinterpretations of the GPL:

1. An author is certainly free to sell his/her code while it is under
the GPL. As is anyone else, there simply is no "right to sell the code
exclusively" in the GPL, see above.

2. As the copyright holder, I believe the author is certainly free to
change his/her license with a future release -- regardless of whether
the code had changed. But even if all reference to the GPL were removed
from the future release, that would not revoke earlier releases' GPL
licenses; anyone who cared to could fork a GPL release and continue
development provided they used the GPL license. Thus the GPL achieves
the one thing the author of this article attributes as the benefit of
the MPL: a free market incentive to keep software free.
His next argument is with the "viral" nature of the GPL, but his first
point supporting the argument is not true:

"First, it prevents the use of code released under other Open Source
licenses, with the exception of Public Domain, from being used in
combination to create a larger work. For example, suppose that you have
located a third of the source code components that you need for your
project under the GPL, another third under the X consortium/MIT style
licenses, and the final third as Public Domain. Problem solved? No, you
will either have to rewrite the GPL or the X consortium/MIT components
as GPL will not co-exist with the other."

From the top of http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/license-list.html:

"We classify a license according to certain key questions:

* Whether it qualifies as a free software license.
* Whether it is a copyleft license.
* Whether it is compatible with the GNU GPL. (This means you can
combine a module which was released under that license with a
GPL-covered module to make one larger program.)"

In fact his X11/MIT example is listed as compatible with the GPL on that
page; I can't say whether this has changed since 1999, when this article
was written, but it is clearly wrong today.
Last he complains that the GPL effectively creates a gulf between
proprietary developers and FOSS developers... this certainly was an
issue for a lot people in 1999, but I don't consider it important enough
anymore to bore the list further
btw, I am a big fan of Mozilla, & had never bothered to read up on their
license. I see a version 1.1 (which presumably came out since that
article was written) can, under certain conditions be compatible with
the GPL -- at least according to the FSF:

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/licens...atibleLicenses

"MPL 1.1 has a provision (section 13) that allows a program (or parts of
it) to offer a choice of another license as well. If part of a program
allows the GNU GPL as an alternate choice, or any other GPL-compatible
license as an alternate choice, that part of the program has a
GPL-compatible license."
I certainly don't believe that the GPL is best for everyone, and if your
main issue with the GPL is its viral nature, the MPL looks like it may
be a good alternative, after the LGPL & X11 licenses

of course,
IANAL
TINLA
etc...

Kenneth
Jul 18 '05 #21

P: n/a
Hi,

Michael Foord wrote:
Joachim Bowman:
Michael Foord wrote:
I'd also like to prevent people
selling derivative works where my stuff forms the substantial part of
the poduct.

I'd prefer to use an OSI approved license - but it's not essential.


These two don't go together. Read "6. No Discrimination Against Fields
of Endeavor" in "The Open Source Definition"[0].
[0] http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php


I don't see a conflict at all on that point.....


Well, selling a derivative work of your software is some kind of
endeavor. If you include a restriction in your license forbidding this,
it doesn't comply to The Open Source Definition.

You will not find any OSI approved license which will include a clause
like the one you probably have in mind.

J
Jul 18 '05 #22

P: n/a
Hi,

Dan Perl wrote:
"Michael Foord" <fu******@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:6f**************************@posting.google.c om...
A lot of people use python as part of their job and are active
participants in teh python community. A lot of what I write are
library modules to do a particular job. Using the GPL means someone is
unable to use your work in a business setting. i don't expect other
people to sell products containing my work - but neither do I want to
prevent them from being able to use it.


Fair enough. LGPL, X, or BSD should allow you to do that.


So does the GNU GPL. Freedom/Open Source and commercial use are two
orthogonal concepts. The two don't interfere in any way.

You can have Free Software (under the GPL) that is used and distributed
commercially, Free Software that is used and distributed in a non
commercial way (Python), proprietary software that is used and
distributed commercially (think about MS Word), and proprietary software
that is used and distributed free of charge and without a commercial
background (sometimes called freeware).

J
Jul 18 '05 #23

P: n/a
Hi,

Peter Hansen wrote:
This seems like an appropriate post to which to attach a reference
to a nice article contrasting the GPL and the Mozilla Public License
(MPL): http://croftsoft.com/library/tutorials/gplmpl/

Summary of that essay, in the words of its author:
"I state in this essay that MPL is more free and open than GPL."


There is, of course, a controversy about this point. The GNU people
claim[0] that people who call the GNU GPL "viral" and other licences
"more free" actually aren't talking about freedom but about power.

J

[0] http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/freedom-or-power.html
Jul 18 '05 #24

P: n/a
Michael Foord:
library modules to do a particular job. Using the GPL means someone is
unable to use your work in a business setting.

Joachim Bowman wrote: So does the GNU GPL. Freedom/Open Source and commercial use are two
orthogonal concepts. The two don't interfere in any way.


It so nice to organize things. Each file is in a directory,
each book on a shelf, each concept on its own axis. The
Aristotelian logic of one or the other.

But life is full of platypuses. That's what makes things
messy, fun, frustrating, and interesting.

"Freedom/Open Source" isn't a single dimension. How can it be
when licenses can be both free and mutually exclusionary? (See
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-...atibleLicenses )

Odds are good you can find three licenses A, B, and C such that
A is compatible with B is compatible with C, but where A is not
compatible with C. A messy space indeed!
Let B be a point in business space. Let L be a point in the
software licensing space. The statement "don't interfere in any way"
means that for all B and all L there is a point (B, L) which is
in (business space x licensing space).

That's provably false - choose B = "a company making money selling
binaries but not also distributing source". Those exist. Let
L = "a library licensed under the GPL." Those also exist. Suppose
company B wanted to include that library as part of the software.
Is (B, L) a point in business space x software licensing space?

The answer of course is no, so we're left with one or more of the
following:
1. B and L are not orthogonal (I'm backing this one ;)
2. B is not a valid point in business space (the way GNU would
like it to be)
3. L is not a valid point in licensing space (some others would
like this to be true)
4. there's another definition of "don't interefere in any way"
5. using a dimensional space metaphor doesn't make sense (but
you believe otherwise)
6. I'm missing some other reason

Let's assume #5 and #6. I can't think of more reasonable way
to handle #4 under the dimensional metaphor. From observation
I see that #2 and #3 do exist. So I'm left concluding that
there is at least one business model which conflicts with at
least one license model.
In other words, I disagree.

But as it turns out, you actually used the phrase "commercial
use" and not "business setting" in your reply. You've reduced
the high-dimensional "business space" down to a single
binary descriptor, "commercial."

You said you think of the high-dimensional "software license
space" as a single dimension, and your example implies
you think of it as also being binary dimension (is/is not free).

In that restricted, projected subspace then your argument works.
You successfully enumerated all four possibilities in that
narrow view of things. It just not what the original poster
said.

Life is complex. Organization helps understanding. Toy
models give clarity. But take away an essential complexity
and the toy is a curiosity only; the platypus removed.

Though I think echidnas look cuter than platypuses and are
just as interesting.
Andrew
da***@dalkescientific.com
Jul 18 '05 #25

P: n/a
Michael Sparks wrote:
On Thu, 28 Oct 2004, Robert Kern wrote:
Donnal Walter wrote:
Thanks for this reference and the one to Creative Commons. Is there a
good mailing list or on-line forum appropriate for discussing
licensing issues?


...
http://www.opensource.org/licenses/#email

I do recommend reading some of the archives first. Some of your
questions have been tread over many times on that list.


Reading Lawrence Rosen's book on open source licensing is highly
recommended as well for people interested in this sort of thing. It's
oddly readable for a law (IPR law at that) book.


Ok, I browsed most of the opensource.org mailing list for the past six
months, and while enlightening, it didn't answer my specific questions
(and I have not asked them there, as most questions there are about
specific licenses). Rosen's book is not available to me at the moment,
but I have been reading St. Laurent's book, which has been helpful.
Nevertheless, may I pose the following scenario here?

Given:
1. PA, the "primary author" in this scenario.

2. FW, a "framework" authored by PA for developing small custom
applications in Python, especially by non-programmers who are
professionals in another field.

3. OApps, a suite of "original applications" written by PA using FW.

4. CApps, "contributed apps" to be written by other professionals in the
field using FW.

5. BigApp, an integrated version of OApps/CApps into a single "big
application" managed by PA using FW.

Now, PA wishes to make FW, CApps, and BigApp available as free software
such that:
a. pros in the field will be encouraged to use OApps and BigApp
b. pros will be encouraged to help improve OApps and BigApp
c. pros will be encouraged to contribute CApps to Bigapp
d. other programmers will be encouraged to help improve FW.

PA would like derivatives of OApps and BigApp to remain free (seeing no
reason why they should ever be proprietary), and is therefore leaning
toward copyleft (CL) licensing for these.

For similar reasons, PA wants to *encourage* CApps to be released under
CL or CL-compatible license so that they can be included in BigApp.

PA sees little advantage in allowing derivatives of FW to be proprietary
(and therefore is leaning toward CL for this, too). However, see next
paragraph.

PA does not currently plan on combining FW with other software, but is
aware of:
a. another framework (FW2) that is non-copyleft (NCL), and
b. another framework (FW3) that is CL,
with which FW might be merged one way or another in the distant future.

Here are my questions.

1. Is there a compelling reason for PA *not* to use a CL license (say
Gnu GPL) for OApps and BigApp? These are "end-user" applications, not
system components.

2. Am I right in thinking that the license for FW will have little or no
legal bearing on the licenses contributors choose for CApps?

3. Am I right in thinking that a CL license for BigApp would encourage
(but not require?) using CL for CApps (if they want them included)?

4. Will either a CL or NCL license for FW affect the likelihood of
receiving improvements from programmers outside the field of interest?

5. If PA chooses a CL license for FW, can it later be changed to NCL in
order to be combined with FW2?

6. If PA choses a NCL license for FW, can it later be changed to CL in
order to be combined with FW3?

Thanks,
Donnal Walter
Arkansas Children's Hospital
Jul 18 '05 #26

P: n/a

"Joachim Bowman" <us**********@spamgourmet.com> wrote in message
news:2u*************@uni-berlin.de...
Hi,

Dan Perl wrote:
"Michael Foord" <fu******@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:6f**************************@posting.google.c om...
A lot of people use python as part of their job and are active
participants in teh python community. A lot of what I write are
library modules to do a particular job. Using the GPL means someone is
unable to use your work in a business setting. i don't expect other
people to sell products containing my work - but neither do I want to
prevent them from being able to use it.
Fair enough. LGPL, X, or BSD should allow you to do that.


So does the GNU GPL. Freedom/Open Source and commercial use are two
orthogonal concepts. The two don't interfere in any way.


I beg to differ. Let's take a possible scenario. Let's say that my company
has a complex software product that sells for $1M a piece. And let's also
say that I need some encryption for the product. I find an encryption
library that is free and is GPL licensed. What happens if I use it?
Correct me if I'm wrong in any part (and I genuinely admit that I may be
wrong). I have to release my entire product under a GPL license and I have
to publish the entire code (I assume that the use of the encryption library
is not isolated to only one part of the product). Would my company want to
do something like that? I don't think so. Sure, we are still entitled to
try to sell the product but who would pay $1M when with a little effort they
can put the entire product together from the code and any support that we
could sell is never going to be worth the money we are asking for?

Red Hat can make money from selling their Linux distribution, but apart from
companies that have deeper pockets and for whom getting the support and
warranties that Red Hat offers are worth a relatively small fee, how many
small consumers buy the commercial distribution when they can just download
the same thing for free? No wonder that Red Hat also sells things like mugs
and T-shirts.

So getting back to my scenario, leaving theory and "orthogonality" aside,
practical reasons will stop many companies from using GPL licensed code in a
commercial product. I think that constitutes interference.

Dan
You can have Free Software (under the GPL) that is used and distributed
commercially, Free Software that is used and distributed in a non
commercial way (Python), proprietary software that is used and distributed
commercially (think about MS Word), and proprietary software that is used
and distributed free of charge and without a commercial background
(sometimes called freeware).

J

Jul 18 '05 #27

P: n/a

"Dan Perl" <da*****@rogers.com> wrote:

"Joachim Bowman" <us**********@spamgourmet.com> wrote in message
news:2u*************@uni-berlin.de...
Hi,

Dan Perl wrote:
"Michael Foord" <fu******@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:6f**************************@posting.google.c om...
A lot of people use python as part of their job and are active
participants in teh python community. A lot of what I write are
library modules to do a particular job. Using the GPL means someone is
unable to use your work in a business setting. i don't expect other
people to sell products containing my work - but neither do I want to
prevent them from being able to use it.

Fair enough. LGPL, X, or BSD should allow you to do that.
So does the GNU GPL. Freedom/Open Source and commercial use are two
orthogonal concepts. The two don't interfere in any way.


I beg to differ. Let's take a possible scenario. Let's say that my company
has a complex software product that sells for $1M a piece. And let's also
say that I need some encryption for the product. I find an encryption
library that is free and is GPL licensed. What happens if I use it?
Correct me if I'm wrong in any part (and I genuinely admit that I may be
wrong). I have to release my entire product under a GPL license and I have
to publish the entire code (I assume that the use of the encryption library
is not isolated to only one part of the product). Would my company want to
do something like that? I don't think so. Sure, we are still entitled to
try to sell the product but who would pay $1M when with a little effort they
can put the entire product together from the code and any support that we
could sell is never going to be worth the money we are asking for?


If other posters on this topic are correct; you don't need to lose your
application in order to use that GPL library, you merely need to write a
wrapper for that library, which is then released under the GPL. Since
you are the original author, you can do whatever you want with the
wrapper; including using it in a commercial setting where you don't
release your application.

The wrapper is the derivative work, which is licensed under the GPL.
But being the original author, you can do whatever you want with the
wrapper, including using it from a non-GPL'd piece of software, without
needing to tell anyone about it.

If anyone asks about the fact that your main software is not GPL'd,
point them to the wrapper software, and as long as your wrapper is
nontrivial, I don't believe it is a big deal.

This is just a restatement of perhaps a half-dozen other people that
have posted in the last week or so on this same topic. If they are
wrong on this topic, then so am I.

Red Hat can make money from selling their Linux distribution, but apart from
companies that have deeper pockets and for whom getting the support and
warranties that Red Hat offers are worth a relatively small fee, how many
small consumers buy the commercial distribution when they can just download
the same thing for free? No wonder that Red Hat also sells things like mugs
and T-shirts.


Red Hat doesn't make money on selling their Linux distribution, they
make money on the /support contracts/ for large companies who need
guaranteed support.
- Josiah

Jul 18 '05 #28

P: n/a
Donnal Walter wrote:

[snip]
1. Is there a compelling reason for PA *not* to use a CL license (say
Gnu GPL) for OApps and BigApp? These are "end-user" applications, not
system components.
Not terribly compelling to my mind, but:
Some people avoid copylefted works out of (pick one or more: habit,
ignorance, irrational fear, rational avoidance of licensing
complexity/uncertainty, any number of things I can't think of off the
top of my head). CApp authors will almost assuredly use OApps as
examples for using the framework. A license like the GPL for BigApp
could limit which CApps you can include because of incompatibilities.
2. Am I right in thinking that the license for FW will have little or no
legal bearing on the licenses contributors choose for CApps?
If the license you use for the framework is strong copylefted (e.g. GPL)
as opposed to weak copylefted (e.g. LGPL), then the license *will* have
a strong bearing on the license used for contributed apps.
3. Am I right in thinking that a CL license for BigApp would encourage
(but not require?) using CL for CApps (if they want them included)?
*shrug* I think that strongly depends on the community that you build
around your software. If I'm not involved in the community, I'm more
likely to choose a license for my apps which is in my best
interests/desires and meets the requirements of the licenses of the
libraries I am using. Only if there is a strong community that pushes
for a particular license am I likely to deviate from that preference.
BigApp's license alone wouldn't do that for me.
4. Will either a CL or NCL license for FW affect the likelihood of
receiving improvements from programmers outside the field of interest?
Probably, but I would doubt that anyone can tell you how either choice
will affect contributions. Many people will come up with arguments for
either position ("GPL will drive programmers away!" "GPL will gives
programmers assurance that everyone will give back to the community!").
Ignore them. They know less than you.
5. If PA chooses a CL license for FW, can it later be changed to NCL in
order to be combined with FW2?
If you not only are the principal author but also the sole copyright
owner, then yes. If you fold in changes from other people without having
them assign copyright to you or have them license those changes under a
permissive license (BSD, MIT, PSF, and the like), then you must obtain
permission to relicense from each of them. This can be a problem sometimes.
6. If PA choses a NCL license for FW, can it later be changed to CL in
order to be combined with FW3?


Similar answer as above. If the non-copyleft license is permissive like
BSD, etc. then your headaches are greatly reduced.

IANAL. TINLA.

--
Robert Kern
rk***@ucsd.edu

"In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
-- Richard Harter
Jul 18 '05 #29

P: n/a
Josiah Carlson wrote:

[snip]
If other posters on this topic are correct; you don't need to lose your
application in order to use that GPL library, you merely need to write a
wrapper for that library, which is then released under the GPL. Since
you are the original author, you can do whatever you want with the
wrapper; including using it in a commercial setting where you don't
release your application.

The wrapper is the derivative work, which is licensed under the GPL.
But being the original author, you can do whatever you want with the
wrapper, including using it from a non-GPL'd piece of software, without
needing to tell anyone about it.

If anyone asks about the fact that your main software is not GPL'd,
point them to the wrapper software, and as long as your wrapper is
nontrivial, I don't believe it is a big deal.


What kind of wrapper are you talking about? An executable program that
communicates with the rest of your software via pipes? If you are
linking in the GPL library and distributing the result, the whole code
must be licensed compatibly with the GPL no matter how much wrapper code
you put around it.

--
Robert Kern
rk***@ucsd.edu

"In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
-- Richard Harter
Jul 18 '05 #30

P: n/a

Robert Kern <rk***@ucsd.edu> wrote:

Josiah Carlson wrote:

[snip]
If other posters on this topic are correct; you don't need to lose your
application in order to use that GPL library, you merely need to write a
wrapper for that library, which is then released under the GPL. Since
you are the original author, you can do whatever you want with the
wrapper; including using it in a commercial setting where you don't
release your application.

The wrapper is the derivative work, which is licensed under the GPL.
But being the original author, you can do whatever you want with the
wrapper, including using it from a non-GPL'd piece of software, without
needing to tell anyone about it.

If anyone asks about the fact that your main software is not GPL'd,
point them to the wrapper software, and as long as your wrapper is
nontrivial, I don't believe it is a big deal.


What kind of wrapper are you talking about? An executable program that
communicates with the rest of your software via pipes? If you are
linking in the GPL library and distributing the result, the whole code
must be licensed compatibly with the GPL no matter how much wrapper code
you put around it.

Let us say that my commercial (non-GPL) software A links my GPL wrapper
B. Wrapper B links GPL'd library C.

B is the derivative of C, so must be GPL'd, and is. Since B is owned by
me, I can do what I want with it. So I do what I want, I link it from
my commercial software A.

Now, I can ship B and C as with a GPL license along with my non-GPL
software, stating quite clearly that since I am the owner of B, I am
going to link B as I find necessary.

From what I understand, as long as B is nontrivial, the above is
sufficient. And as I said before, if the original posters are incorrect
about this, so am I.
With all that said, if one /could not/ use GPL'd libraries from
commercial software, then nVidia and ATI would have lawyers knocking on
their doors for not GPLing their video drivers, as technically, the
nVidia drivers are derivative works of the Linux kernel. Not being
privy to the inner workings of nVidia nor ATI, I will not guess how they
have managed to release binary-only drivers for linux, and will just say
that it is being done.

- Josiah

Jul 18 '05 #31

P: n/a
On Fri, 2004-10-29 at 23:34 -0700, Josiah Carlson wrote:
With all that said, if one /could not/ use GPL'd libraries from
commercial software, then nVidia and ATI would have lawyers knocking on
their doors for not GPLing their video drivers, as technically, the
nVidia drivers are derivative works of the Linux kernel. Not being
privy to the inner workings of nVidia nor ATI, I will not guess how they
have managed to release binary-only drivers for linux, and will just say
that it is being done.


AFAIK there are no ATI binary drivers for Linux. Those drivers are part
of x.org, developed from ATI's specs. The NVidia drivers are binary ad
use the GPL'd wrapper approach. The driver comes in two parts: the
proprietary binary module, where all the interesting stuff happens, and
a GPL-compatible shim between it and the kernel.

Whether or not this is *really* GPL-compliant is still up in the air.
Just because nobody complains about it doesn't mean it's legal. I
seriously doubt any of the kernel developers have any intention of
"sending lawyers" to NVidia's door over it if it isn't, so the lack of
action doesn't really prove anything other than it works for practical
purposes ;)

--
Cliff Wells <cl************@comcast.net>

Jul 18 '05 #32

P: n/a
Josiah Carlson wrote:
Let us say that my commercial (non-GPL) software A links my GPL wrapper
B. Wrapper B links GPL'd library C.

B is the derivative of C, so must be GPL'd, and is. Since B is owned by
me, I can do what I want with it. So I do what I want, I link it from
my commercial software A.

Now, I can ship B and C as with a GPL license along with my non-GPL
software, stating quite clearly that since I am the owner of B, I am
going to link B as I find necessary.
You're still distributing C linked in with A. A derives from C. The fact
that you've stuck B in the middle is irrelevant unless it's part of a
communications bridge between a process consisting of A+B communication
via some form of IPC (sockets, pipes, whatever, just not static or
dynamic linking) with C (or A communicating with B+C, or A+B with B+C,
however it's arranged).
From what I understand, as long as B is nontrivial, the above is
sufficient. And as I said before, if the original posters are incorrect
about this, so am I.
With all that said, if one /could not/ use GPL'd libraries from
commercial software, then nVidia and ATI would have lawyers knocking on
their doors for not GPLing their video drivers, as technically, the
nVidia drivers are derivative works of the Linux kernel. Not being
privy to the inner workings of nVidia nor ATI, I will not guess how they
have managed to release binary-only drivers for linux, and will just say
that it is being done.


They use a wrapper (they call it a "shim") somewhat similar to what you
describe. The key difference is that their shim uses the standard kernel
API to talk with the binary-only drivers in much the same way that a
proprietary, binary-only application uses the standard kernel API. Using
the standard kernel API is considered (at least by Linus; see COPYING in
the Linux kernel distribution) to be *use* of the Linux kernel and thus
unrestricted and not creating a derivative work.

Wrapping C with, for example, an XML-RPC interface (GPL-compatible
license) and connecting to it via that interface from A
(GPL-incompatible) would be the appropriate analogy here.

--
Robert Kern
rk***@ucsd.edu

"In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
-- Richard Harter
Jul 18 '05 #33

P: n/a
Robert Kern wrote:
Donnal Walter wrote:

[snip]
2. Am I right in thinking that the license for FW will have little or
no legal bearing on the licenses contributors choose for CApps?

If the license you use for the framework is strong copylefted (e.g. GPL)
as opposed to weak copylefted (e.g. LGPL), then the license *will* have
a strong bearing on the license used for contributed apps.


This is not an exact analogy, but if Python were licensed under GPL (or
OSL), would *all* programs written *in* Python need to have the same
license? (My intuition says no, but I would not be totally surprised to
find that my intuition is wrong.)

Donnal Walter
Arkansas Children's Hospital
Jul 18 '05 #34

P: n/a
Donnal Walter wrote:
This is not an exact analogy, but if Python were licensed under GPL (or
OSL), would *all* programs written *in* Python need to have the same
license?


It's in the GPL FAQ:
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq....terpreterIsGPL

"""
If a programming language interpreter is released under the GPL,
does that mean programs written to be interpreted by it must be
under GPL-compatible licenses?

When the interpreter just interprets a language, the answer is
no. The interpreted program, to the interpreter, is just data;
a free software license like the GPL, based on copyright law,
cannot limit what data you use the interpreter on. You can run
it on any data (interpreted program), any way you like, and
there are no requirements about licensing that data to anyone.

However, when the interpreter is extended to provide "bindings"
to other facilities (often, but not necessarily, libraries),
the interpreted program is effectively linked to the facilities
it uses through these bindings. So if these facilities are
released under the GPL, the interpreted program that uses them
must be released in a GPL-compatible way. The JNI or Java Native
Interface is an example of such a facility; libraries that are
accessed in this way are linked dynamically with the Java programs
that call them.

Another similar and very common case is to provide libraries with
the interpreter which are themselves interpreted. For instance,
Perl comes with many Perl modules, and a Java implementation
comes with many Java classes. These libraries and the programs
that call them are always dynamically linked together.

A consequence is that if you choose to use GPL'd Perl modules or
Java classes in your program, you must release the program in a
GPL-compatible way, regardless of the license used in the Perl
or Java interpreter that the combined Perl or Java program will
run on.
"""

Andrew
da***@dalkescientific.com
Jul 18 '05 #35

This discussion thread is closed

Replies have been disabled for this discussion.