[sword-devel] GPL 3 licencing issues

Jeremy Erickson jerickson314 at users.sourceforge.net
Mon Jul 16 17:16:12 MST 2007

IANAL, but my understanding is that the GPLv2 only allows code under the GPLv2 
(or a license such as BSD/MIT which permits everyhing the GPL does) to be 
linked with GPL'd code.  The GPLv3 has wording in section 7 to explicitly 
allow linking from MIT/BSD/etc., as well as allowing certain restrictions not 
normally found in the GPL.

So, my understanding is that if the Sword license gained extra restrictions 
like the ones mentioned, it would become illegal to link Sword with GPLv2 
code, and probably GPLv3 code as well (for any restriction not in Section 7).  
That means that BibleTime 2 on Windows with such a Sword library would be 
illegal, because BibleTime 2 will link with Qt 4, which is available only 
under the GPL on some platforms (unless we wanted to fork out lots of cash 
for a commercial license, which is unrealistic.)  Trolltech's license will 
not permit us to link Qt with code containing restrictions not in the GPL, 
even indirectly (i.e. the same app linking both libraries.)  And the GPL 
makes it clear that if we allowed full GPL for Sword with respect to 
BibleTime, we have to allow full GPL for everything.

I don't think that adding these restrictions is an option without killing off 
BibleTime, which is obviously not a good option.

Although I personally like simple permissive licenses for many projects, my 
personal opinion is that a GPLv2/GPLv3 dual-license would be the most 
appropriate option for Sword.  This allows the maximum usage of Sword by free 
software while nonetheless preventing proprietary software from using it.  
However, it's ultimately not my decision.  I will respect whatever decision 
is made (just don't kill BibleTime.)

-Jeremy Erickson

On Monday 16 July 2007 2:44:03 pm Chris Little wrote:
> jhphx wrote:
> > Can you include work released under 2 or 3 that was licensed without the
> > additional restrictions in a work that has the additional restrictions.
> > I didn't think that kind of thing was allowed. Is that a "compatible"
> > license? It has been a long time since I have looked at this.
> I'm not sure. I'd have to re-read the GPL, but it would obviously depend
> on the actual terms of the modified license. We might have to replace
> non-CrossWire GPL code in Sword if we changed the license--which would
> not be a big deal.
> There's also the possibility of just licensing BibleCS under a modified
> license since it's really only the Windows software (BibleCS and Bible
> Desktop) that have been or are very likely to be abused by commercial
> interests.
> --Chris
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