[postgis-users] Re: [postgis-devel] PostGIS jdbc license

Markus Schaber schabios at logi-track.com
Fri Dec 10 02:17:26 PST 2004

Hi, strk,

On Thu, 9 Dec 2004 19:07:15 +0100
strk at refractions.net wrote:

> The main benefit of GPL is its 'tainting' of derived code.
> GPL code does not *want* to help development of non-free code,
> it has been explicitly designed for the purpose.

But the GPL, in contrast to the LGPL, does not only taint the derived
code, but also every other code that happens to be linked against it.

So, say, an independently developed 1000000 lines of code project that
wants to use PostGIS/jdbc as part of a newly added I/O filter is forced
into GPL as a whole.

This is what the LGPL was designed for.

The FSF put their GNU Libc under LGPL, and the GCC libstdc++ has an
exception in its license that allows linking against closed source

> The LGPL has been renamed to Lesser GPL since early 1999,
> to discourage the 'better fits to a library' assumption.

I know. 

However, libraries, plugins and similar situations were the reason for
the LGPL to be created. (And for a lot of other, partially strange

> > When you stay at GPL, we will have to reimplement some of the
> > functionality for one of our projects, and this might reduce future
> > contributions from us.
> What prevents you to licence your product under a GPL licence ?

This is a decision that was not made by me. Our company generally
prefers open source software, and it is policy to submit all in-house
modifications made to open source code, preferably with copylefted
licenses. And some projects are put under GPL or other free software
licenses, or are scheduled to be.

However, there are some reasons for our leaders not to free all of our
own code _by now_, and not necessarily under GPL or a compatible
license. Be shure that I and my co-workers put this topic on the table
from time to time, but we are not the persons to decide. 

> > Note that we would not want you to change to a BSDish license as we
> > prefer copylefted licenses like the LGPL. Also, we do not want to
> > urge you in any way, we just would like to know what you think about
> > it, so we can decide the way for us to go.
> Why do you find LGPL better then BSDish ?

BSDish basically is public domain with advertising clause, while LGPL is

Under LGPL, you are forced to put any modifications to the project
itsself under LGPL (or GPL) again, and need to obey most of the other
GPL rules, so the project itsself cannot get closed source again.

So, basically, both the BSDish and the LGPL would allow projects that
come under non-GPL compatible licenses (which may nevertheless be free
and open software projects) to include the PostGIS JDBC drivers.

But BSDish licenses also allow someone to keep fixes, modifikations and
extensions to the PostGIS JDBC drivers for itsself.

Having the PostGIS JDBC code under LGPL would allow us to include the
code in our project. At the same time, it will force us to recontribute
all improvements and extensions we make to the code itsself, which we
will happily do (provided you accept the changes).

Thanks for your willingness to discuss this issue.

Markus Schaber 

markus schaber | dipl. informatiker
logi-track ag | rennweg 14-16 | ch 8001 zürich
phone +41-43-888 62 52 | fax +41-43-888 62 53
mailto:schabios at logi-track.com | www.logi-track.com

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