[sword-devel] GPL 3 licencing issues

Chris Little chrislit at crosswire.org
Mon Jul 16 08:55:56 MST 2007

keith preston wrote:
> Speaking of licensing issues, I've always wondered why Sword was 
> licensed under the GPL license.  Is there a specific purpose for being 
> specifically GPL?   To me if would be benifical for the library to be 
> LGPL or a less restrictive license.   I mean the purpose of the code is 
> to make the bible available and is specifically designed in that 
> respect.   I believe the GPL restricts use of this purpose.

I think generally we're of the opinion that it would be best if Sword 
remained free software--and that includes both the library and the 
frontends, as well as some of the Sword-related tools.

We want our software to be used, both by developers and end-users. But 
we don't want our years of work to be adopted by developers who just 
want to make a buck off of our work without any compensation. By using 
the GPL, developers have to repay us in kind by giving us the same 
rights to their work as they give to us. As a result, when we want to 
extend their work, we can. When they retire from development, their 
projects can continue to be developed, etc.

> For example, say I am a commercial company and I put out a device and 
> publish an api to my UI.   Some random hacker comes around and 
> implements a sword program with that API and distribute the program 
> freely.    This generally is only possible if the company decided to 
> open source their entire UI, which frequently might not be the case.  In 
> fact, the GPL restricts what components can be linked into a program.

This is, I believe, a pretty common misunderstanding about the GPL, 
which would in no way restrict this sort of development.

OS libraries can be linked by GPL software without being under a 
GPL-compatible license. That's stated by the license. We use the Win32 
API and various components and APIs from Borland--none of which are open 

A hypothetical program to be developed by a hypothetical developer for a 
hypothetical device isn't the most compelling argument for giving our 
software away to commercial developers for free.


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