[Qgis-developer] QGIS License (was Qt 4.X)

Mateusz Loskot mateusz at loskot.net
Wed Sep 6 21:03:05 EDT 2006

Gary Sherman wrote:
> On Wed, September 6, 2006 1:46 pm, Steve Halasz wrote:
>> Good point. It's all very muddy. This article suggests that binary 
>> kernel modules are tolerated, but perhaps not explicitly allowed by
>> the GPL.
>> http://linuxdevices.com/articles/AT5041108431.html
>> I support licensing QGIS under the LGPL. Hopefully it's not too 
>> late to make a change.
> Its not too late as long as we can get all the code contributors to 
> agree. Are we sure that LGPL covers everything or should we consider
>  another license as long as we are talking about change?


I'm an infrequent contributor to QGIS but I hope you don't mind
I'll donate this brainstorm with my 5 cents.

I'm not a lawyer, though I belive that if there are any questions
and doubts about coexistence of GPL licensed QGIS with external
commercial / proprietary / closed source additional components
like QGIS plugins, then it's definitely worth to take it under
consideration as soon as possible.

The first question I'd ask is what does the QGIS business model is
supposed to look like? Is this only about providing possibility to
develop and load proprietary / closed source plugins or may be something

This is only a question I see as important and interesting to ask at
the beginning of licensing discussion, but I'm even not going to
aspire to answer it.

There are many Open Source licensing models friendly to proprietary
components. For example, Frank Warmerdam explains [1] MIT/X license as a
"business friendly" license. I also know LGPL (see Shapelib or SQLite
projects) as another one.


In my opinion, there is yet another interesting licensing model that was
developed with respect to requirements of
open source / closed source /commercial / proprietary [2]
software development, and which does not forbid such any of these usage

[2] this is a list of "possible combinations", have I mentioned
I'm not a lawyer? :-)

The license I have in mind is Boost Software License.
I believe it may be interesting, at least to read about it and
its history.

General info and history of Boost Software License:


The most interesting parts for our discussion is small
comparative analysis of Boost Software License with GPL and LGPL:

Here the Boost license is shortly compared with GPL
(see question "How is the Boost license different from the GNU
General Public License (GPL)?"):


Here, Boost license is compared to LGPL:


Here is a wiki page with great list of comparisons of Boost license
with other Open Source licenses:


It's a really great job and IMHO it greatly helps to clarify all this
lawyers tongue to something more plain.

Shortly, Boost license seems to me as an interesting and premeditated
license. Also, it seems to be modern and respective to new conditions,
for example:

"the Boost license is not "viral": if you distribute your own code along
with some Boost code, the Boost license applies only to the Boost code
(and modified versions thereof);"

Yet another of my thoughts is that it may be helpful to take some
consultion (see http://www.boost.org/more/license_info.html#History and
Bekerman Center). May be OSGeo could help QGIS with this consultancy
support, lawyers etc.
Just an idea.

Mateusz Loskot

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