[sword-devel] GPL restrictions (was Re: using a zText module)

Greg Hellings greg.hellings at gmail.com
Sun Aug 12 18:21:10 MST 2012

On Sun, Aug 12, 2012 at 7:51 PM, Daniel Hughes <trampster at gmail.com> wrote:
> OK here is the issue for me. My application (Wide Margin) is GPL 3. It has
> been all it's life. I want to use libsword. But libsword is GPL2.
> GPL 3 is a later version of GPL 2. The FSF want people to use GPL 3.

That is their recommendation. But Crosswire has not chosen to follow it.

> What would it take for the sword project to re-licence to: GPL 2 or later.
> I'm sure that the libsword contributors would have no problem with allowing
> GPL 3 applications use the library.

This question comes up perennially and the answer is always the same:
No. At this time we have no intention to to move to GPL 2. As a
community we have agreed that GPL 2 is the license we will use. There
is the occasional request to change it but we like the protections
from v2.

> How many contributors do you have, how hard would it be for you to contact
> them and get permission for this licence change. Otherwise you are going to
> be preventing more and more libraries who are following FSF recommendations
> and licencing as GPL3.
> Xiphos uses GPL2 or later. This would make Xiphos non-compliant.

Xiphos is multi-licensed. GPL2 or GPL3. Therefore it is compliant. As
long as at least one available license is compliant (some seem to say
identical to) GPL2, then Xiphos is compliant.

> Bible time uses GPL2 but contains this text:
> This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
> it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
> the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or
> (at your option) any later version.
> This would make BibleTime also non-compliant

Same as Xiphos. Multi-licensing fulfills the requirements for GPL2 as
long as at least one of them fulfills the requirements of GPL2.

> Looks like you guys have a bit of a problem on your hands. What are you
> planning to do about it?

There is no problem. So long a person at least multi-licenses their
application to something that can link to GPL2 (which you've noticed
that there is some discussion about on this list) then they are fine.
If they don't want to be limited by the requirements of that, then
Crosswire doesn't want them to be using our library.

Our thinking is that we are putting our volunteer hours into this and
we don't want a commercial entity to take from us our work and
contribute nothing back to us. Technically it is still possible for
them to sell our software, but they cannot (legally) modify it before
they do so.


> Sincerely,
> Daniel
> On Mon, Aug 13, 2012 at 10:52 AM, Peter von Kaehne <refdoc at gmx.net> wrote:
>> There is a lot of confusion about.
>> But it is actually very simple.
>> A complete programme binary incorporating libsword (or other GPL2 code)
>> requires to be GPL2, i.e. full sources need to be released etc etc etc.
>> The "compatible" is here very limited as essentially only a copyleft
>> license will do.
>> But GPL2 code can incorporate any kind of GPL2 compatible code - in any
>> amount.
>> So, it is possible to create a GPL2 application based on libsword, where
>> 100% of the non library code is PD, allowing anyone who wants to e.g. to
>> make use of the PD code in commercial close sourced applications - as
>> long as such applications no not link to libsword, but use a different
>> Bible backend.
>> An example of that exists within the wider Sword family in LCD Bible.
>> The author took his GUI code and reworked it for making a closed source
>> application with a different backend. If he had BSD licensed or PD
>> dedicated the GUI code, he would have allowed others to do the same.
>> Peter
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