[sword-devel] GPL issues (again, sorry)

Chris Little sword-devel@crosswire.org
Thu, 24 May 2001 17:58:46 -0700

> > ...
> > And there's a concensus that neither static nor dynamic linking
> against a
> > GPLed library is ever okay if your product is non-GPL.
> What makes them say that?  Is it a moral or legal issue?

Their belief was that it was a legal issue.

> > ...
> > I'd suggest that we ensure that all our code is owned or
> relicenseable by
> > Crosswire.  Meaning, we get all contributors to assign copyright to
> > Crosswire and make it clear that any future patches, CVS commits, etc.
> > become property of Crosswire.
> Why would you want to do this?  IMO the strength of a GPL license is
> dependent to some extent on having multiple copyright holders.
> Personally,
> i would be reluctant to release code under such an arrangement.  (Not that
> my vast contribution counts for anything.  ;-)

That is the situation with all FSF/GNU Project releases.  See
http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl-faq.html#AssignCopyright for their reason.
For our purposes, I see the benefit as being the ability to change the
license generally (such as to LGPL) or to license to other groups like SIL
or OliveTree or the British and Foreign Bible Society in the event any of
them wished to use Sword.  We can do both these currently, but it requires
unanimous agreement between EVERYONE who ever contributed.  And that means
needing to be able to contact everyone who contributed (a feat unto itself).
If "Crosswire" owns the copyright, then things are considerably simpler.
Then the active members of Crosswire need only come to a concensus.  Or
(better IMO) we name Troy as our benevolent dictator and let him make all
the decisions, assuming he'll make decisions that everyone agrees on.
Realizing that he's done most of the work on the library (to say nothing of
the work he puts in maintaining the servers and doing CD mailings), he ought
to get the final decision anyway.

> Are you saying that there cannot be a WinCE version at all without using
> proprietary libraries?  If this is the case, i think there is a
> strong case
> for applying the 'OS libraries' exception to them, even if they aren't
> offically part of the OS.

The proprietary libraries to which I'm referring are not OS libraries and do
not come with embedded Visual C++.  Were that the case, we'd have no
problem.  I am using Dinkumware's library to make up for the severe
deficiencies in eVC.  This library is commercial and very expensive.  See
http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl-faq.html#WritingFSWithNFLibs for the FSF's
opinion on linking to non-free libraries.  If someone wants to write a GPL
library for WinCE that handles STL and basic i/o calls, we don't need
Dinkumware.  But I don't see that happening, so we need an exception to our
license, which requires permission from EVERYONE who ever contributed to

> > and license for non-GPL use (when bob@logos.com
> > decides he wants to start using Sword).
> You're hoping.  :-)  (Besides, if he does, make him free his code rather
> than shackle Sword. 8^)

Not really, but I am hoping smaller groups like SIL and Bible societies will
use Sword for projects internally and in general release and it would make
some sense to allow them to use it under LGPL.

I would, however, cast my own vote in favor of retaining GPL as our general
license because I think it encourages others to make free software and I
think that's a good thing.  Not everyone seems to remember Matt. 10:8b--
"Freely you received, so freely give."  I think the GPL serves well as a
friendly reminder.