[sword-devel] Sword license

Derek Neighbors sword-devel@crosswire.org
Fri, 17 Jan 2003 07:17:14 -0700 (MST)

Jimmie Houchin said:
> If I read the Sword/JSword source code and from that design/information
> write (port would be accurate?) classes, methods, etc. in Squeak to
> process Sword Modules would I be obligated to also use the GPL?

Copyrighted works are copyrighted works.  I guess it might be best put,
think of it as writing a "research paper".  If you plagarize and you dont
use the GPL you could be confronted by the author of the original work. 
If you put in your own words you are ok. :)  That might be making it too
simple, but in essence you are granted the right to study the code under
the GPL.  You may not however plagarize the code and "distribute" the
modified version without being bound by the terms of the GPL.  Certainly
you could mimic functionality and be ok.  As most GPL programs wouldn't
exist today if they were not mimicking some proprietary program in which
they are modeled after.

> The reason I ask is because of the viral nature of the GPL. GPL is not
> appropriate for any non-GPLed Smalltalk. Smalltalk source is in an
> image. All of it is linked by GPL definition. Any use of GPL code in a
> Smalltalk image compels the entire image to be GPLed. This is not
> possible.

I am not a Smalltalk expert, but I if "Smalltalk" is the issue why not use
"GNU Smalltalk"?  I believe there may even now be a GPL version of Squeak.

( http://www.smalltalk.org/versions/GNUSmalltalk.html )

> I hate to contribute to the proliferation of licenses. But is Crosswire
> open to such a variance for image based systems like Smalltalk?
> ie: a dual license? I do not necessarily no which license would be most
> appropriate for Crosswire. The Squeak License makes no obligations for
> use of source. It is more close to the MIT or BSD licenses.

I think changing SWORD to an MIT or BSD license is a bad idea.  As we have
seen on this very list the savage greed (or whatever you want to call that
display) of the "online bible" folks.  People truly can have other than
the kingdoms work as a potential agenda and an MIT/BSD license would let
them run with that much more than the GPL would.

> Thanks for any help in understanding my options.

What is RMS' solution for Squeak applications that what to be GPL'd?  I
would imagine this could be solved with a slight modification that says
its ok to "link" to smalltalk(squeak).  If the SWORD team were willing to
add this one liner to the license, they would still be afforded all the
goodness of the GPL but allow smalltalk users to make variations.  This
was for example the solution RMS offered to the Qt library problems before
they changed their license.