[GRASS-PSC] grass code making its way into gdal (+relicense)

Hamish hamish_b at yahoo.com
Sun May 3 08:02:36 EDT 2009


It has come to my attention that some GRASS code has been ported to C++
under the Apache license, and from there is now included in GDAL/trunk as
BSD licensed. It is a substantial rewrite, but I have looked through the
code and there is IMO a clear lineage of the core. i.e. AFAICT it is a
derivative product -- but the the main question is if any GPL'd fixes or
enhancements are involved, or just reuse of CERL public domain code &


specifically this code is derived from r.slope.aspect and r.shaded.relief.
(I didn't check the color rules code although the rules format is

Again, these modules are historically derived from really old CERL code,
so _originally_ public domain. IMHO at minimum that should be credited.
(the oldest version I have on hand to check is GRASS 4.3, 1999/GPL)

But it definitely includes some of our GPL-era enhancements.
 (e.g. 'r.shaded.relief scale=')

I'm happy for code to be reused for useful purposes, I'm not happy for
GPL licensed code to be laundered into BSD with all copyright and
attribution removed; which Will then be reused by someone else in a
proprietary product at a rate proportional to its usefulness (and this
is very useful code). As this was all done in the open, if there is any
problem (& I'm not sure there is), I expect it to stem from a simple

If we do feel there is some non-trivial GPL-derived code in there to
claim, all authors of that code would need to agree to a relicense of it
as BSD. (my guess/hope is that it is all either CERL-based or trivial

according to the headers, these authors have contributed to those modules:

Michael Shapiro,
Marjorie Larson, and 
Olga Waupotitsch (original CERL contributors), 
Markus Neteler,
Bernhard Reiter, 
Brad Douglas,
Glynn Clements,
Hamish Bowman,
Jachym Cepicky,
Jan-Oliver Wagner,
Radim Blazek

Markus Neteler,
Michael Barton,
Gordon Keith,
Andreas Lange,
David Finlayson,
Glynn Clements,
(and me)


My feeling is that it is the sole responsibility of the coder to research
and clearly spell out the code heritage in the code header comments. Even
if it is deemed to be based on public domain CERL code, those authorship
and copyright statements shall Never be removed.

A port between computer languages is no different than a translation
between human languages -- and if you accept that, it follows that you
can't retranslate Harry Potter into Klingon and not expect to be sued
after your version goes on sale.

As a general comment I would not agree to any of my non-trivial GPL code
to be relicensed as BSD, as the GPL assures the return on investment for
my time.


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