[GRASS5] libgrass license?
bernhard at intevation.de
Wed Dec 3 10:23:44 EST 2003
On Tue, Dec 02, 2003 at 07:51:36PM -0500, Frank Warmerdam wrote:
> Hamish wrote:
> >One would have to check that the included "majority of the GRASS libgis,
> >and libdatetime" is only old public domain code and not newer GPL
> >additions, which cannot be arbitrarily re-licensed by a 3rd party as
> >LGPL, AFAIK.
> It is true that libgrass should likely be GPL, not LGPL.
It might make sense to point that out somehow.
The LGPL notices were put up (if I remember correctly)
when we were planning to go forward with a relicensing
of the GRASS format parts under LGPL.
Also it was done when we were in the general
phase of licensing cleaning up. Other problems kept us busy.
We still should work towards an LGPL interface library to GRASS' dataformats.
The idea was to push for a relicensing,
but we found out that with the current code,
we would need to give a huge portion of GRASS functionality away
for proprietary applications to use without freedom protection.
This would equal a complete relicensing under LGPL
stripping GRASS freedom protection.
This is a tradeoff decision and we could try to find out
more about the situation.
My position is that if we find a subset of GRASS code
and make is possible to interface to GRASS' dataformats
from proprietary application, because of an LGPL libgrass or so,
without giving away too much of GRASS appplication capabilities,
it is a good thing.
> >Currently GDAL skirts the issue by not including libgrass.
> >They should be careful about what options their official binaries
> >include though.
Yes, it needs careful attention.
But I consider this a good thing.
Like a consumer right protection,
it is very hard to legally slip in proprietary hooks.
> Well, it would be interesting to see who has the legal resources to sue me
> if I distribute a GDAL build with libgrass support included. Somehow I
> doubt anyone is sufficiently interested.
This does not make the problem go away.
If major commercial commanies get depend on this software,
some competitior will be interested in pursuing legal means.
Just look that the SCO incident.
They do not have a case as far as I know,
but they smell money on smaller legal grounds.
> That said, the GPL nature of the GRASS 5 code base, and the licensing
> complications that implies are part of why I haven't spent much time
> updating libgrass and libgrass support in GDAL.
I know that you usually route around some of the licensing problems.
This is a practical approach for the short term,
especially when interested to get some stuff running.
But in the long term the Free Software community
especially in the GIS field will benefit if somebody works this out precisely.
Similiar problems can be seen in other fields of computing.
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