Discussion:
[sword-devel] GPL 3 licencing issues
Eeli Kaikkonen
2007-07-16 09:26:32 UTC
Permalink
Sword library source code has some licencing issues. Different files
have different licence statements. They should be reviewed and
corrected.

The problem is mostly theoretical because nobody really cares - the
library is under GPL and that's that. But there may arise issues later
with GPL 3. Some of you may already know that GPL 2 and 3 are NOT
compatible. That may sound weird but that's how it is. The only thing
which makes them compatible is the copyright notice which is not part of
the licence. If it reads "relased under GPL v 2 or later" it's
compatible. If it reads "released under GPL" it is unclear. If it reads
"released under GPL; see the attached licence" and the GPL v 2 is
attached it is technically GPL 2 only and not compatible with version 3.

Inside Crosswire this is not important because we don't sue ourselves
because of inconsistency. But if and when we use other libraries inside
Sword library and when the frontend projects use many different
libraries this may become an issue.

Most probably we want the Sword licence to be "under GPL v. 2 or any
later version" to secure the widest compatibility possible. Even after
that the library or the frontends can not use two libraries of which one
is under GPL2 only and the other GPL3 only.

Yours,
Eeli Kaikkonen (Mr.), Oulu, Finland
e-mail: eekaikko at mailx.studentx.oulux.fix (with no x)
keith preston
2007-07-16 15:04:16 UTC
Permalink
Speaking of licensing issues, I've always wondered why Sword was licensed
under the GPL license. Is there a specific purpose for being specifically
GPL? To me if would be benifical for the library to be LGPL or a less
restrictive license. I mean the purpose of the code is to make the bible
available and is specifically designed in that respect. I believe the GPL
restricts use of this purpose.

For example, say I am a commercial company and I put out a device and
publish an api to my UI. Some random hacker comes around and implements a
sword program with that API and distribute the program freely. This
generally is only possible if the company decided to open source their
entire UI, which frequently might not be the case. In fact, the GPL
restricts what components can be linked into a program.

There are probably more issues then I am thinking of here, but to me I would
give the code away and hope people used it to make the bible available to
more people.

Keith Preston
Post by Eeli Kaikkonen
Sword library source code has some licencing issues. Different files
have different licence statements. They should be reviewed and
corrected.
The problem is mostly theoretical because nobody really cares - the
library is under GPL and that's that. But there may arise issues later
with GPL 3. Some of you may already know that GPL 2 and 3 are NOT
compatible. That may sound weird but that's how it is. The only thing
which makes them compatible is the copyright notice which is not part of
the licence. If it reads "relased under GPL v 2 or later" it's
compatible. If it reads "released under GPL" it is unclear. If it reads
"released under GPL; see the attached licence" and the GPL v 2 is
attached it is technically GPL 2 only and not compatible with version 3.
Inside Crosswire this is not important because we don't sue ourselves
because of inconsistency. But if and when we use other libraries inside
Sword library and when the frontend projects use many different
libraries this may become an issue.
Most probably we want the Sword licence to be "under GPL v. 2 or any
later version" to secure the widest compatibility possible. Even after
that the library or the frontends can not use two libraries of which one
is under GPL2 only and the other GPL3 only.
Yours,
Eeli Kaikkonen (Mr.), Oulu, Finland
e-mail: eekaikko at mailx.studentx.oulux.fix (with no x)
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http://www.crosswire.org/mailman/listinfo/sword-devel
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Eeli Kaikkonen
2007-07-16 15:26:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by keith preston
Speaking of licensing issues, I've always wondered why Sword was licensed
under the GPL license.
Personally I also like less restrictive licencies. However, I understand
that there are different situations which call different licencies.

If Sword were published under LGPL it would soon be adopted into
freeware and commercial programs. It's highly probable that we wouldn't
get anything from that. It would be useful if they gave back some
code contributions or helped us with module licencing issues, but I
think that would not happen.

Commercial developers already have enough resources without our library.
And if someone wants to code software to spread the Word of God it's
already possible with Free Software. It's even possible to ask donations
and thereby get some money out of the software.

Using GPL is kind of a fair trade: you can use our code, we can use
yours. I don't see why Bible software should be closed source or why we
should help others make closed source Bible software.

Therefore, though I prefer LGPL or even BSD and could have decided to
use them if I had started this project, GPL is enough for me here and
now.

Yours,
Eeli Kaikkonen (Mr.), Oulu, Finland
e-mail: eekaikko at mailx.studentx.oulux.fix (with no x)
Jason Galyon
2007-07-16 15:43:21 UTC
Permalink
There is always the possibility of dual licensing. A company could
obtain special permission to use a less restrictive license given that
certain requirements are met.

I personally have long been a supporter of the "ransom" model. When a
certain amount of time or income has been met the source is then made
available under an Open Source license.

Plus there are many non GPL products out there that have plenty of
contributions made from companies. My company contributes code and
other components (not our main product though).

Jason
Post by Eeli Kaikkonen
Post by keith preston
Speaking of licensing issues, I've always wondered why Sword was licensed
under the GPL license.
Personally I also like less restrictive licencies. However, I understand
that there are different situations which call different licencies.
If Sword were published under LGPL it would soon be adopted into
freeware and commercial programs. It's highly probable that we wouldn't
get anything from that. It would be useful if they gave back some
code contributions or helped us with module licencing issues, but I
think that would not happen.
Commercial developers already have enough resources without our library.
And if someone wants to code software to spread the Word of God it's
already possible with Free Software. It's even possible to ask donations
and thereby get some money out of the software.
Using GPL is kind of a fair trade: you can use our code, we can use
yours. I don't see why Bible software should be closed source or why we
should help others make closed source Bible software.
Therefore, though I prefer LGPL or even BSD and could have decided to
use them if I had started this project, GPL is enough for me here and
now.
Yours,
Eeli Kaikkonen (Mr.), Oulu, Finland
e-mail: eekaikko at mailx.studentx.oulux.fix (with no x)
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http://www.crosswire.org/mailman/listinfo/sword-devel
Instructions to unsubscribe/change your settings at above page
Chris Little
2007-07-16 15:55:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by keith preston
Speaking of licensing issues, I've always wondered why Sword was
licensed under the GPL license. Is there a specific purpose for being
specifically GPL? To me if would be benifical for the library to be
LGPL or a less restrictive license. I mean the purpose of the code is
to make the bible available and is specifically designed in that
respect. I believe the GPL restricts use of this purpose.
I think generally we're of the opinion that it would be best if Sword
remained free software--and that includes both the library and the
frontends, as well as some of the Sword-related tools.

We want our software to be used, both by developers and end-users. But
we don't want our years of work to be adopted by developers who just
want to make a buck off of our work without any compensation. By using
the GPL, developers have to repay us in kind by giving us the same
rights to their work as they give to us. As a result, when we want to
extend their work, we can. When they retire from development, their
projects can continue to be developed, etc.
Post by keith preston
For example, say I am a commercial company and I put out a device and
publish an api to my UI. Some random hacker comes around and
implements a sword program with that API and distribute the program
freely. This generally is only possible if the company decided to
open source their entire UI, which frequently might not be the case. In
fact, the GPL restricts what components can be linked into a program.
This is, I believe, a pretty common misunderstanding about the GPL,
which would in no way restrict this sort of development.

OS libraries can be linked by GPL software without being under a
GPL-compatible license. That's stated by the license. We use the Win32
API and various components and APIs from Borland--none of which are open
sourced.

A hypothetical program to be developed by a hypothetical developer for a
hypothetical device isn't the most compelling argument for giving our
software away to commercial developers for free.

--Chris
keith preston
2007-07-16 16:26:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Little
I think generally we're of the opinion that it would be best if Sword
remained free software--and that includes both the library and the
frontends, as well as some of the Sword-related tools.
We want our software to be used, both by developers and end-users. But
Post by Chris Little
we don't want our years of work to be adopted by developers who just
want to make a buck off of our work without any compensation. By using
the GPL, developers have to repay us in kind by giving us the same
rights to their work as they give to us. As a result, when we want to
extend their work, we can. When they retire from development, their
projects can continue to be developed, etc.
Cool, I see your point. I'm not trying to advocate a change, just wondering
the reasoning behind the license. Thanks for the Info and keep up the good
work.

Keith Preston
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Chris Little
2007-07-16 16:34:45 UTC
Permalink
It's probably time we (or maybe just Troy) decided how we feel about
GPL3. The final version does seem to have addressed the more onerous
issues of the drafts and there are enough significant GPL2 projects
changing over to GPL3 that I would feel comfortable with Sword doing
likewise.

I think we should drop the "or any later version" language from all of
the files that CrossWire owns, and change everything to specific license
versions.

If we did go the GPL3 route, we should probably dual license under GPL2
and GPL3 for at least a few years so as not to force front-end
developers to change licenses (at least not yet).

Another option is to write a GPL (2 or 3) derivative license that adds
some additional restrictions to prevent some of the commercial abuses of
our software that we've seen in the past: restrictions against changing
the software title to hide its identity, restrictions against embedding
ad banners, a requirement that CrossWire be notified prior to
distribution of derivative works, etc.

--Chris
Post by Eeli Kaikkonen
Sword library source code has some licencing issues. Different files
have different licence statements. They should be reviewed and
corrected.
The problem is mostly theoretical because nobody really cares - the
library is under GPL and that's that. But there may arise issues later
with GPL 3. Some of you may already know that GPL 2 and 3 are NOT
compatible. That may sound weird but that's how it is. The only thing
which makes them compatible is the copyright notice which is not part of
the licence. If it reads "relased under GPL v 2 or later" it's
compatible. If it reads "released under GPL" it is unclear. If it reads
"released under GPL; see the attached licence" and the GPL v 2 is
attached it is technically GPL 2 only and not compatible with version 3.
Inside Crosswire this is not important because we don't sue ourselves
because of inconsistency. But if and when we use other libraries inside
Sword library and when the frontend projects use many different
libraries this may become an issue.
Most probably we want the Sword licence to be "under GPL v. 2 or any
later version" to secure the widest compatibility possible. Even after
that the library or the frontends can not use two libraries of which one
is under GPL2 only and the other GPL3 only.
Yours,
Eeli Kaikkonen (Mr.), Oulu, Finland
e-mail: eekaikko at mailx.studentx.oulux.fix (with no x)
_______________________________________________
sword-devel mailing list: sword-devel at crosswire.org
http://www.crosswire.org/mailman/listinfo/sword-devel
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Eeli Kaikkonen
2007-07-16 17:15:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Little
Another option is to write a GPL (2 or 3) derivative license that adds
some additional restrictions to prevent some of the commercial abuses of
our software that we've seen in the past: restrictions against changing
the software title to hide its identity, restrictions against embedding
ad banners, a requirement that CrossWire be notified prior to
distribution of derivative works, etc.
That would be a very bad idea. It would make Sword non-Free and would
prohibit Linux distros like Debian distributing it. I definitely would
stop developing BibleTime (and other Sword related software) after that.

Yours,
Eeli Kaikkonen (Mr.), Oulu, Finland
e-mail: eekaikko at mailx.studentx.oulux.fix (with no x)
Chris Little
2007-07-16 19:32:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eeli Kaikkonen
Post by Chris Little
Another option is to write a GPL (2 or 3) derivative license that adds
some additional restrictions to prevent some of the commercial abuses of
our software that we've seen in the past: restrictions against changing
the software title to hide its identity, restrictions against embedding
ad banners, a requirement that CrossWire be notified prior to
distribution of derivative works, etc.
That would be a very bad idea. It would make Sword non-Free and would
prohibit Linux distros like Debian distributing it. I definitely would
stop developing BibleTime (and other Sword related software) after that.
Whether the license would still result in free software would depend on
the actual license terms. Of the three examples I listed, only the
second, if written as an explicit prohibition on the "freedom" to embed
adware, would result in non-free software. The others are entirely
permissible in free software, at least as defined by Debian.

I think I'd also add a requirement that distributors notify users that
the software is free and include attribution and a link to CrossWire.

--Chris
Eeli Kaikkonen
2007-07-16 21:33:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Little
Whether the license would still result in free software would depend on
the actual license terms. Of the three examples I listed, only the
second, if written as an explicit prohibition on the "freedom" to embed
adware, would result in non-free software. The others are entirely
permissible in free software, at least as defined by Debian.
I think I'd also add a requirement that distributors notify users that
the software is free and include attribution and a link to CrossWire.
These terms (except the second one), or something like these, seem to be
possible under GPL 3 (see section 7). I strongly advice against anything
which is incompatible with GPL.

I cannot be sure but I think that someone who is willing to circumvent
the GPL 2 or 3 licence would do the same thing with any licence as long
as the source code is available and he can modify the program.

Usually extra restrictions and rules hurt only those who obey the rules,
not those who break them.

Also, Rom. 12:19-20.

Any of us don't actually loose anything even if someone sells our
software illegally. Why should we then be bitter when we know that he is
responsible in front of God the Judge?

Yours,
Eeli Kaikkonen (Mr.), Oulu, Finland
e-mail: eekaikko at mailx.studentx.oulux.fix (with no x)
Chris Little
2007-07-17 06:52:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eeli Kaikkonen
Any of us don't actually loose anything even if someone sells our
software illegally. Why should we then be bitter when we know that he is
responsible in front of God the Judge?
I'm not looking to get a cut of the profits for myself or Troy or
CrossWire or anything like that. And it's not that I would fight against
someone selling the software if they obeyed the license and were
forthcoming about its identity. But I do have issues with people who
hide the fact that our software is free to download and hide the fact
that we made it, as with ThinkAll, who slapped a $60 "retail" price on
BibleCS. I guess I'm bitter about our users being ripped off.

Also, historically, the two groups who distributed Sword illegally
and/or against our wishes never updated their work. So they kept
distributing work that was 1-2 versions behind. If we can prevent that,
it's a service to our users.

--Chris
Eeli Kaikkonen
2007-07-17 10:10:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Chris Little
Post by Eeli Kaikkonen
Any of us don't actually loose anything even if someone sells our
software illegally. Why should we then be bitter when we know that he is
responsible in front of God the Judge?
I'm not lo