[postgis-users] Is PostGIS effectively LGPL?

Paul Ramsey pramsey at cleverelephant.ca
Wed Dec 21 12:12:16 PST 2016

On Wed, Dec 21, 2016 at 11:46 AM, Bruce Momjian <bruce at momjian.us> wrote:

> On Wed, Dec 21, 2016 at 11:31:56AM -0800, Paul Ramsey wrote:
> > Imagine PgSQL was GPL. Would most users of PgSQL have any concerns about
> that?
> Yes, they would it would affect closed-source versions of the Postgres
> backend, as well as perhaps closed source/binary functions and
> extensions.

"Most users" would have concerns w/ closed source PgSQL and proprietary
forks? I'm guessing that 99.9% of our user community is using the community
open source version w/o alteration. Or in the case of AWS Aurora, using a
forked version of PgSQL that is not being "distributed".

> > Probably not, right, because they are just using the unmodified
> database, all
> > their proprietary IP would be on the other side of the client/server
> boundary.
> Right, but that is not what the FAQ addresses, I thought.

Then we should clarify it a bit, because it's mostly about those Frequent
questions on "I'm building a SaaS thing using PgSQL/PostGIS, so I have to
share all my code?". Basically questions about stuff that's on the far side
of the client/server dividing line. Almost nobody asking the licensing
question has actually modified either PgSQL or PostGIS.

> > That leaves folks who are shipping proprietary PgSQL with PostGIS added
> in. Are
> > you wondering about them?
> Yes, plus things like server-side functions and triggers.

For the "proprietary fork of PgSQL folks", which are a very small subset of
the user community, things are greyer and we leave it to their own lawyers
to determine how comfortable they are w/ it.  Our internal "we care about
it" policy has been more LGPL'ish, in that we're concerned w/ people
shipping closed, modified versions of PostGIS (apologies to strk if I'm
granting more leniency than he might like). However, that doesn't stop
lawyers and folks from applying a stronger interpretation around shipping
proprietary PgSQL w/ un-modified community PostGIS. Does PgSQL depend on
PostGIS? No. You can run it w/o. You can even have your users download a
plug-in separate from the shipping PgSQL, so that you aren't "distributing"
both parts together (I believe that's the line that historically EDB has
taken w/ PostgresPlus?). There's all kinds of tap-dancing, depending on
what companies have decided feels right. We aren't a $1B company, we aren't
suing anybody, do your due diligence and abide by the spirit of the license
as best you can.


> --
>   Bruce Momjian  <bruce at momjian.us>        http://momjian.us
>   EnterpriseDB                             http://enterprisedb.com
> + As you are, so once was I.  As I am, so you will be. +
> +                      Ancient Roman grave inscription +
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