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

Massimiliano Cannata massimiliano.cannata at supsi.ch
Mon May 4 12:51:05 EDT 2009

Dylan Beaudette wrote:
> 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
> effort.
> Thanks to all that have been looking into this matter.
> Cheers,
> Dylan
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I also don't think this was intentionally done and, as confirmed by 
Frank, GDAL peoples will look into this.
But, even if derived from public domain work, I would suggest to Perry 
to give the right credit to peoples that works on this:
its only a matter of fair play.

Btw: I cannot imagine how much of the GRASS code could have been ripped 
in other apps and licences...



Dr. Eng. Massimiliano Cannata
Responsabile Area Geomatica
Istituto Scienze della Terra
Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana
Via Trevano, c.p. 72
CH-6952 Canobbio-Lugano
Tel: +41 (0)58 666 62 14
Fax +41 (0)58 666 62 09 

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