[sword-devel] Question about Public Domain
eekaikko at mail.student.oulu.fi
Wed Mar 18 02:28:13 MST 2009
Quoting Chris Little <chrislit at crosswire.org>:
> Provided that all Sword-derived code were removed from a front end (by
> removing all code from Sword and calls to Sword functions), CrossWire
> would have no copyright over the result. Providing there were no other
> GPL dependencies, the authors of this code would be free to release it
> in any fashion he liked, from PD to closed commercial licenses.
> It's really all just copyright law.
Let's also remember that our opinions don't matter much. Even the
writer of the licence can't say what it really means, he can only say
what HE meant. The only legally binding meaning is made in court, and
even different judges can come to differing conclusions.
FSF has created the GPL with help of attourney(s) and their opinion is
better than anyone's on this list, but even their FAQ is not very
clear in many points.
We can continue arguing, or we can just live with a couple of facts:
GPL is used by many big companies with hordes of lawyers, and by
countless individuals. The essence of GPL is that all derivative code
must be released under the GPL. That's why the companies and
individuals use it. And that's why the SWORD frontends must be
released under the GPL.
Each writer owns the copyright to his own work, but if the work is a
derivative, he can't decide the licence freely. He can't mix GPL'ed
and GPL-incompatible libraries etc.
Here is my proposition:
If someone wants to release his work under a liberal licence but must
still obey the GPL he can double licence the code like this: "This
work is released under the GPL licence. Additionally, any part of the
source code which can be used independently from GPL'ed libraries can
be used in any way you like."
Then there's no reason to argue because everyone is happy. The GPL
requirement is satisfied and still the frontend developer can use his
own copyright to release his own code with any licence he wants, as
long as it's independent from GPL'ed libraries.
My understanding is that some people think that the frontend can be
released under e.g. the BSD licence because it's GPL compatible and so
the whole work and all its parts can be automatically be under the GPL
even though the frontend code is released also under more liberal
licence. In effect this would be the same as my proposition, because
the licence can't in any circumstances be changed to a non-GPL
compatible and the source code and binaries must be distributed like
under the GPL. But it's not reasonable to do this because it's not
agreed upon and may give some less knowledgeable people a thought that
the frontend licence may be changed to any licence and the source code
can be closed. Therefore, let's just use the GPL and add an additional
clause if necessary.
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