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

Paul Gear sword-devel@crosswire.org
Fri, 25 May 2001 13:06:49 +1000

> > > ...
> > > And there's a concensus that neither static nor dynamic linking
> > against a
> > > GPLed library is ever okay if your product is non-GPL.
> >
> > What makes them say that?  Is it a moral or legal issue?
> Their belief was that it was a legal issue.

Got any links to the discussion?

> > > ...
> > > 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.
> >
> > Why would you want to do this?  IMO the strength of a GPL license is
> > dependent to some extent on having multiple copyright holders.
> ...
> For our purposes, I see the benefit as being the ability to change the
> license generally (such as to LGPL) or to license to other groups like SIL
> or OliveTree or the British and Foreign Bible Society in the event any of
> them wished to use Sword.  We can do both these currently, but it requires
> unanimous agreement between EVERYONE who ever contributed.

That is a good thing, IMO.  It means that it is more likely that the
software stays free.  No one is going to sue anyone over Sword code, so the
FSF reason for it probably doesn't apply to CrossWire.

> ...
> If "Crosswire" owns the copyright, then things are considerably simpler.
> Then the active members of Crosswire need only come to a concensus.

Does CrossWire actually have members?

> Or
> (better IMO) we name Troy as our benevolent dictator and let him make all
> the decisions, assuming he'll make decisions that everyone agrees on.
> Realizing that he's done most of the work on the library (to say nothing
> the work he puts in maintaining the servers and doing CD mailings), he
> to get the final decision anyway.

Linus II, we hail thee!  :-)

> > Are you saying that there cannot be a WinCE version at all without using
> > proprietary libraries?  If this is the case, i think there is a
> > strong case
> > for applying the 'OS libraries' exception to them, even if they aren't
> > offically part of the OS.
> The proprietary libraries to which I'm referring are not OS libraries and
> not come with embedded Visual C++.  Were that the case, we'd have no
> problem.  I am using Dinkumware's library to make up for the severe
> deficiencies in eVC.  This library is commercial and very expensive.  See
> http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl-faq.html#WritingFSWithNFLibs for the FSF's
> opinion on linking to non-free libraries.  If someone wants to write a GPL
> library for WinCE that handles STL and basic i/o calls, we don't need
> Dinkumware.  But I don't see that happening, so we need an exception to
> license, which requires permission from EVERYONE who ever contributed to
> Sword.

I admit this is not a nice situation (especially if you want to use WinCE

> ...
> I would, however, cast my own vote in favor of retaining GPL as our
> license because I think it encourages others to make free software and I
> think that's a good thing.  Not everyone seems to remember Matt. 10:8b--
> "Freely you received, so freely give."  I think the GPL serves well as a
> friendly reminder.

I think we really need to think whether GPL is *that* much better than LGPL
for our purposes.  It seems to me all these problems would be solved by
converting to LGPL, and there is really not that much cost (especially given
that the need to relicense code is only theoretical at the moment).  Even
the LGPL is a good reminder of Matt 10.

As an aside, i'd really like to see some legal precedent relating to the
linking issue.  It seems to me from section 2 of the GPL that linking is not
relevant, and the whole idea that a program linked with a GPL-ed library is
a 'work based on the program' is a flawed one (and thus the difference
between the GPL and the LGPL is a non-issue).  But you never know with the
American legal system.  8^)