[sword-devel] GPL 3 licencing issues

DM Smith dmsmith555 at yahoo.com
Tue Jul 17 08:22:34 MST 2007

I just re-read v3 and v2. Ouch, my head hurts. Some of v3, like section 
3 just don't make any sense to me. I'm glad I am not a lawyer!

Interestingly, both v2 and v3 require presenting the user with the 
license. I don't know if all our applications do this. I know when I 
install BT or GS via an RPM, I'm not presented with the license. 
According to the GPL, it then needs to be available via the program. v3 
also stipulates that acceptance of the license is not necessary to use 
the software, but is necessary to re-distribute it. The BibleCS and 
BibleDesktop windows installers have it as a requirement to install.

v3 also seems to require that a GPL program must make available all 
source code necessary to build and make it run, including all 3-rd party 
libraries (i.e. Corresponding Source), other than "System Libraries". I 
didn't see that in v2, though it may be in there in spirit. I'm not sure 
how this would affect us.

See below for other response.

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
> On Tue, 17 Jul 2007, DM Smith wrote:
>> Having "or later"
>> does not solve the compatibility issue. It merely allows the license
>> to be upgraded.
> I'm not quite sure if I understand. After all it is effectively double
> licencing, and has not double licencing been one way to ensure
> compatibility with GPL? I mean, a library could be used in a GPL program
> if the library is licenced under both GPL and a non-compatible licence.
> See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_license.

Having re-read v2 and v3, I think that it allows the recipient to use it 
under a later version if desired, but not an earlier one. Thus, if it 
said v2 or later, it could be combined with v3 licensed code to make a 
v3 program. However, if it said v3 or later, then it could not be 
combined with v2 code (unless it had the "or later" clause).

Effectively, this would mean that all the 3-rd party code that we use 
would have to be compatible with v3 for us to upgrade from v2. So to 
upgrade to v3, we would need to know if any products (at least any that 
we endorse/support) built from libsword have incompatible 3-rd party 

>> The GPL in any version or flavor is *not* a theft deterrent. It is a
>> legal document, useful for people who care what the license says/
>> means. Ultimately, as a non-income organization, we have little
>> recourse beyond prayer and appealing to people to honor the license.
> And that is one reason why I think changing the licence is a bad idea.
> As I said in an earlier post, strict rules hurt good people, not bad
> people. Bad people can be hurt only by the Sword of the authorities
> (excuse my pun with Rom. 13:1-7).
>> 2) It does not prevent forking, re-branding or hiding origination.
> We have to check if the GPL 3 section 7 could prevent hiding
> origination.
v2 requires that modifications be clearly marked so that changes are not 
attributed to the original authors. I did not see a requirement to keep 
authorship intact. I don't understand enough about copyright laws to 
know whether copyright statements must be kept intact.

v3 allows for the retention of authorship, copyright and legal 
statements. But it is necessary to modify the GPL with an addition per 
section 7.

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