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

Dylan Beaudette debeaudette at ucdavis.edu
Mon May 4 10:19:34 EDT 2009

On Sun, May 3, 2009 at 10:24 PM, Hamish <hamish_b at yahoo.com> wrote:
> [http://trac.osgeo.org/gdal/ticket/2975]
> Frank wrote:
>> If the GPL/GRASS derived portions cannot be rewritten we will have to
>> remove them or the whole utility.
> It is pretty clear that the core methods of gdaldem were directly derived
> from a GPL work. As luck would have it (I'm guessing, but it's highly
> likely) that the GPL work in question was itself derived from a public domain work, so there is a good chance that we have a fairly clean way out
> of this. It is my hope that we will be able to find old CERL/GRASS public
> domain versions to go back to which contain the bulk of the code so we can
> confirm that and gdaldem doesn't have to be removed or relicensed as GPL.
> But nobody has gone back to do that yet. An audit would have to be done
> between that original CERL code, the modern GRASS code, and gdaldem to be
> sure that no GPL additions are included. As gdaldem (seems) based on GPL
> grass that means following each CVS/SVN log 1999-2006, which luckily we
> still have. Confirming that some bits of it were in the public domain does
> not confirm that other bits of it are not.
> If anything was found we'd have to sort that out, either by permission or
> by rewrite. We'd have to supervise that to some extent, but the onus is
> really on the new coder to prove that they have committed clean code.
>> I appreciate your bringing this to our attention (indirectly).
> my intention had been to discuss it amongst ourselves here and more fully
> do our homework on it so to present something robust to gdal from the
> offset, rather to immediately yell "gpl violation!" and run in circles
> waving arms about, which helps nobody. so the gdal bug is filed a little
> sooner than I planned, but I guess that's not a bad thing either as I
> would not like to see GDAL 1.7.0 published in the mean time without this
> being known.
> I'd still like a discussion to take place among the GRASS devels as
> I think it's healthy and reassuring to put forward a consensus view.
> best,
> Hamish

I am not an expert on the myriad of open source licenses, however, I
have met and interacted with Matt Perry and I do not think that this
act was intentional. I think that bringing Matt into the discussion as
soon as possible would be a good idea, as his original release of this
code appeared to be done as a case study in GDAL programming.

That said, I am glad that Hamish has spent the time and effort to look
over this code. The movement of GPL-ed GRASS algorithms into BSD-ed
mini-applications could represent a net loss of GRAS dev. time and

Thanks to all that have been looking into this matter.


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