[sword-devel] Fwd: GPL and other license related questions

Chris Little chrislit at crosswire.org
Sun Jan 27 09:08:27 MST 2008

Jonathan Morgan wrote:
> However, I do not think
> that the objection apparent on this mailing list to even discuss
> rationally the licensing without essentially saying, "We want it this
> way to stop those evil commercial people from making any money from
> our hard work" supports this goal at all.

No one who has argued against changing the current licensing has accused 
commercial interests of being evil or has criticized the creation of 
commercial software. The whole "commercial software is evil" meme came 
from the other camp, as have the accusations of being unchristian and 
that most passive-aggressive of "Christian" argument tactics: chiding 
via verse reference. (You know, because then God is obviously on the 
citer's side and it's really God doing the chiding.)

Speaking as one of those people who've actually contributed 
substantially to Sword, we don't want our work, which we contributed 
without financial interest, being locked up in closed source software 
for someone else's gain, financial or otherwise. There's nothing 
inherently wrong with charging money for software or Bible software or 
even OUR Bible software, provided you obey the license. And that license 
ensures that anything you sell, you have to give back to us, and we can 
always undercut you when it comes to price.

We're not going to encourage any financial exploitation of Sword. We may 
even frown on it. But we won't actively work to hinder you, provided you 
obey the license.

> I don't think that your choice of the GPL is a bad choice, but
> I do think that you are seriously in error in jumping to the
> conclusion that if it goes commercial it will be taking all your work
> without any attribution or contribution.  I'm not even convinced that
> lots of commercial software would want to use Sword.

History indicates that you are wrong.

The issue isn't Logos or BibleWorks using Sword code. The issue is 
people who assume GPL means PD, take our work, rename & repackage, 
remove attribution (at least at purchase time), rip off customers by 
hiding the fact that they could get the same software for free (and 
indeed rip them off in much worse ways). The result is that we have to 
deal with added support for software that someone else was paid for. 
Usually it also means supporting long superseded releases. And, to boot, 
when the software doesn't work or the customer's credit card keeps 
getting repeatedly billed, our name is sullied by association (as if we 
were actively participating in the sales).


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