[sword-devel] GPL issues (again, sorry)

Chris Little sword-devel@crosswire.org
Thu, 24 May 2001 15:45:50 -0700

Sorry to bring this up again, but there's been quite a lot of chatter over
on Slashdot on precisely the subjects we were discussing.  This was in
response to the FSF's new GPL FAQ at
http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl-faq.html, which answers most of our

There's some agreement that with COM, you can degrade the GPL into the LGPL.
And there's a concensus that neither static nor dynamic linking against a
GPLed library is ever okay if your product is non-GPL.

Further, it looks like my linking the WinCE version against a commercial
library would also be a GPL violation.

I'd suggest that we ensure that all our code is owned or relicenseable by
Crosswire.  Meaning, we get all contributors to assign copyright to
Crosswire and make it clear that any future patches, CVS commits, etc.
become property of Crosswire.  There are 4 pieces of code that I know of
that we have absorbed from the outside: zLib (which is under a very free
license that we needn't worry about), the LZSS code from STEP (not sure of
the license, but I suspect we could remove this if need be without many
problems because zip has worked better in all cases thus far), the roman
numeral translator (GPL, so we would need to rewrite or get special
permission), and GNU Regex (GPL, but we can find a replacement under BSD I

That way, Sword itself would be the only GPLed product we are distributing
and since Crosswire would own copyright, it could do non-GPL works itself
(such as the WinCE version) and license for non-GPL use (when bob@logos.com
decides he wants to start using Sword).

I know I said building a COM object degrades GPL to LGPL, but I still can't
build a WinCE COM object without using non-GPL libraries. :)

And yes, I know no one would ever sue us for infringing upon GPL, but I'd
still prefer we got everything straightened out and legal.  (Just because
you don't get caught doesn't make it right.)