[sword-devel] Is sword going non-gpl or proprietory?

Chris Little sword-devel@crosswire.org
Sun, 8 Sep 2002 21:13:42 -0700 (MST)

On Mon, 9 Sep 2002, Glenn Reed wrote:

> I read this from the mailing list.		
> > > First it is GPL--this is
> > > the last GPL component in the library.  If it were replaced with
> > > something else, we could license Sword under non-GPL licenses to other
> > > entities (e.g. Bible societies that don't want to deal with GPL's
> > > restrictions) or put it out publicly under a license that we write that
> > > better meets our needs than the GPL.
> My feeling is that the great advantage of sword is that it is GPL.  If it 
> ever went closed source (perhaps due to pressure from certain bible 
> societies??) I would be forced to pursue other options :(
> However, what would happen to the Sword code base already released?

Well, first, there are no plans to license as anything other than GPL.  
Second, there has never been any suggestion that we go to any license that 
is not open-source except by those who see this as a way of convincing 
copyright holders that Sword is secure.

There is nothing particularly special about GPL, however, and I see a lot
of room for improvement in it.  GNU says of the Artistic License of Perl
that "some passages are too clever for their own good, and their meaning
is not clear."  I would charge GPL with the same thing--minus the
cleverness.  It just has some really stupidly vague bits that should have
been cleared up about 10 years ago when they became obvious, regarding
things like dynamic linking.  As a Christian organization, we may also
wish to specify terms of distribution in the future, such as mandating
that at least one full OT/NT Bible be included with every distribution of
the software.  That gives us a bit of a safety net against our software
being hijacked by non-Christian groups.

Any distributed copies of code licensed under GPL would remain under that 
license, regardless of whether CrossWire kept GPL, moved to BSD, or became 
a bunch of suits for the Man.

The MORE important feature of being able to relicense Sword to close the 
license further, but to open it.  So long as parts of the software that we 
do not own the copyright for are under GPL, we can't grant other 
organizations closed source licenses that they may require for work they 
are doing.  Ensuring that everything in Sword is under licenses more free 
than GPL gives us more options.

Just to re-iterate, we're not going closed source.