Hmm, what license to use?

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Re: Hmm, what license to use?

Simon Marlow-5
Magnus Therning wrote:

> Wolfgang Jeltsch wrote:
>> Am Freitag, 26. September 2008 09:24 schrieb Magnus Therning:
>>  
>>> Recently I received an email with a question regarding the licensing
>>> of a module I've written and uploaded to Hackage.  I released it under
>>> LGPL.  The sender wondered if I would consider re-licensing the code
>>> under BSD (or something similar) that would remove the need for users
>>> to provide linkable object files so that users can re-link programs
>>> against newer/modified versions of my library.
>>>    
>> Since GHC does cross-package inlining, code of your library is directly
>> included (not just linked) into code that uses the library.  So I think that
>> every code that uses your library will have to be released und the GPL or
>> LGPL which is a very bad situation.
>>
>> People, don’t release Haskell libraries under the LGPL!
>>  
>
> That would be serious indeed, but before changing my ways I'd need more
> information to back up your statement.  Could someone confirm that code
> from one installed module can be inlined into another?

When optimisation is turned on, you have virtually no control over how
much code GHC will copy from one module to another, which is why several
people (me included) have expressed concerns about the use of an
unmodified LGPL with Haskell code in the past.  I believe at one stage
we even asked for clarification from the FSF, but I don't recall getting
an answer.

Cheers,
        Simon
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Re: Re: Hmm, what license to use?

Brandon S Allbery KF8NH
On 2008 Sep 27, at 11:59, Simon Marlow wrote:

> Magnus Therning wrote:
>> Wolfgang Jeltsch wrote:
>>> Am Freitag, 26. September 2008 09:24 schrieb Magnus Therning:
>>>
>>>> Recently I received an email with a question regarding the  
>>>> licensing
>>>> of a module I've written and uploaded to Hackage.  I released it  
>>>> under
>>>> LGPL.  The sender wondered if I would consider re-licensing the  
>>>> code
>>>> under BSD (or something similar) that would remove the need for  
>>>> users
>>>> to provide linkable object files so that users can re-link programs
>>>> against newer/modified versions of my library.
>>>>
>>> Since GHC does cross-package inlining, code of your library is  
>>> directly included (not just linked) into code that uses the  
>>> library.  So I think that every code that uses your library will  
>>> have to be released und the GPL or LGPL which is a very bad  
>>> situation.
>>>
>>> People, don’t release Haskell libraries under the LGPL!
>>>
>> That would be serious indeed, but before changing my ways I'd need  
>> more
>> information to back up your statement.  Could someone confirm that  
>> code
>> from one installed module can be inlined into another?
>
> When optimisation is turned on, you have virtually no control over  
> how much code GHC will copy from one module to another, which is why  
> several people (me included) have expressed concerns about the use  
> of an unmodified LGPL with Haskell code in the past.  I believe at  
> one stage we even asked for clarification from the FSF, but I don't  
> recall getting an answer.

As for confirmation, try ghc --dump-iface on a .hi file, often you  
will see GHC Core in the .hi
so that it can be inlined in modules importing it.

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Re: Hmm, what license to use?

Magnus Therning
In reply to this post by Simon Marlow-5
On Sat, Sep 27, 2008 at 4:59 PM, Simon Marlow <[hidden email]> wrote:
[..]
>> That would be serious indeed, but before changing my ways I'd need more
>> information to back up your statement.  Could someone confirm that code
>> from one installed module can be inlined into another?
>
> When optimisation is turned on, you have virtually no control over how much
> code GHC will copy from one module to another, which is why several people
> (me included) have expressed concerns about the use of an unmodified LGPL
> with Haskell code in the past.  I believe at one stage we even asked for
> clarification from the FSF, but I don't recall getting an answer.

Thanks for this clarification.  In my limited understanding of
licenses this would mean that in the Haskell world LGPL and GPL
basically are the same.  I suppose it's an excellent example of just
how difficult it is for "law" to keep up with technology, even when
the "law" is written by technologists.

I guess it means I might as well relicense all my Haskell code under
GPL instead.

I'm also disappointed to hear that the FSF hasn't bothered responding
to this issue.  What part of the FSF was approached?  Does someone
still have copies of the letters/email that was sent?

/M

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Re: Hmm, what license to use?

Achim Schneider
"Magnus Therning" <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Sat, Sep 27, 2008 at 4:59 PM, Simon Marlow
> <[hidden email]> wrote: [..]
> >> That would be serious indeed, but before changing my ways I'd need
> >> more information to back up your statement.  Could someone confirm
> >> that code from one installed module can be inlined into another?
> >
> > When optimisation is turned on, you have virtually no control over
> > how much code GHC will copy from one module to another, which is
> > why several people (me included) have expressed concerns about the
> > use of an unmodified LGPL with Haskell code in the past.  I believe
> > at one stage we even asked for clarification from the FSF, but I
> > don't recall getting an answer.
>
> Thanks for this clarification.  In my limited understanding of
> licenses this would mean that in the Haskell world LGPL and GPL
> basically are the same.  I suppose it's an excellent example of just
> how difficult it is for "law" to keep up with technology, even when
> the "law" is written by technologists.
>
> I guess it means I might as well relicense all my Haskell code under
> GPL instead.
>
> I'm also disappointed to hear that the FSF hasn't bothered responding
> to this issue.  What part of the FSF was approached?  Does someone
> still have copies of the letters/email that was sent?
>
IMHO, and IANAL, inlining core from .hi's shouldn't be any different
than calling a macro out of a .h...

http://www.wxwidgets.org/about/newlicen.htm

might be an interesting read regarding that topic, as wxwidgets heavily
relies on macros for declarations.

In another sphere (lua, that is) there is spring[1], whose developers
more or less say that the FSF has lost its mind by interpreting mods as
derived works, thus requiring them to be published under the GPL.

[1] http://spring.clan-sy.com

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Re: Hmm, what license to use?

ajb@spamcop.net
In reply to this post by Manlio Perillo-3
G'day all.

Quoting Magnus Therning:

> Recently I received an email with a question regarding the licensing
> of a module I've written and uploaded to Hackage.  I released it under
> LGPL.  The sender wondered if I would consider re-licensing the code
> under BSD (or something similar) that would remove the need for users
> to provide linkable object files so that users can re-link programs
> against newer/modified versions of my library.

Generally speaking, the Haskell community releases general-purpose
libraries under a BSD-like licence.  Programs are generally either
released under the BSD-like licence or the GPL.

The reason that we generally use the BSD-like licence for libraries
is that libraries are intended to be maximally reusable.  Hence, the
de facto standard is a licence that allows for maximum reuse.

There's nothing wrong with releasing a Haskell library under the LGPL.
The biggest risk in doing so is that not everyone will use your library.

The risk in picking yet another licence, one that satisfies your
opinions on software freedom, is even more confusion.  If the usual
BSD-like licence doesn't do it for you, I would be concerned about
adding yet another licence into the mix if you don't have to.  Just
use the LGPL, and add explicit exceptions if it makes you feel better.

We know where we stand with GPL, LGPL and BSD.  More licences causes
more confusion.

Cheers,
Andrew Bromage
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Re: Hmm, what license to use?

Magnus Therning
On Sun, Sep 28, 2008 at 12:20 PM,  <[hidden email]> wrote:
[..]
> The risk in picking yet another licence, one that satisfies your
> opinions on software freedom, is even more confusion.  If the usual
> BSD-like licence doesn't do it for you, I would be concerned about
> adding yet another licence into the mix if you don't have to.  Just
> use the LGPL, and add explicit exceptions if it makes you feel better.
>
> We know where we stand with GPL, LGPL and BSD.  More licences causes
> more confusion.

Despite that there does seem to be some confusion relating to using
the LGPL with an advanced compiler/linker as GHC I think you are
right: adding more licenses to the mix is a serious problem.

For now I will continue to release Haskell modules under LGPL and
programs under GPL and if people would like to put the code to use in
a non-free way they'll simply have to ask me.  Hopefully this is
something that people are used to doing.

/M

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Re: Hmm, what license to use?

Malcolm Wallace
In reply to this post by Magnus Therning

On 26 Sep 2008, at 08:24, Magnus Therning wrote:
> I've heard that the OCaml crowd uses a modified LGPL with a static
> linking exception.  Unfortunately I've also heard that their addition
> to LGPL hasn't gotten much review by lawyers, I'd much rather use
> something that feels less ad hoc, if you get what I mean.

It's not just O'Caml that adds a "static-linking exception" clause to  
the LGPL.
Examples of other projects using a similar exception include
     wxWidgets    http://www.wxwidgets.org/about/newlicen.htm
     FLTK         http://www.fltk.org/articles.php?L364+I0+TFAQ+M10+P1+Q

and in the Haskell world:
     wxHaskell    http://haskell.org/haskellwiki/WxHaskell/License
     HaXml        http://www.cs.york.ac.uk/fp/HaXml/COPYRIGHT

Regards,
     Malcolm

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Re: Hmm, what license to use?

Bit Connor
In reply to this post by Magnus Therning
I'm going to give my take on the LGPL, but even though this isn't a
direct answer to your question, please read because it's especially
relevant in your case where you would like to allow static linking.

The way I see it, the LGPL tries to accomplish two separate goals:

Goal 1 (The FSF angle): Users of the eventual program will have the
ability to modify the code of the LGPL library and relink the program
with their modifications. It's a user freedom thing. I find a problem
with this since it usually doesn't help the user all that much, since
the rest of the program is proprietary. And any user who respects his
own freedom won't use such a proprietary program in the first place.
The whole thing is kind of pointless, and even the FSF strongly
advises against using the LGPL.

Goal 2 (The "open source" angle): Developers who use the library
should have to contribute their modifications of the library back to
the community. I believe that it's wrong to use a license to try to
enforce such cooperation. Look what happened with KHTML when Apple
started using it for their Safari web browser. Even though KHTML was
LGPL, Apple didn't play nice and did not send proper patches back to
the KHTML developers. Instead, Apple only did what they were legally
required to do and released huge source dumps that were impossible to
integrate back upstream. On the other hand, plenty of BSD libraries
receive contributions from companies because the companies know that
it's the right thing to do, and also because it makes it easier for
those companies to upgrade to new versions of the library when their
own changes are integrated upstream.

The FSF advises only to use LGPL in rare cases as a tactic to ensure
greater freedom further down the line. For example, because libc was
LGPL, the gcc compiler was able to spread everywhere, and now it
pretty much has become the industry standard compiler (which is great
for the free software community).

I personally see the license choice as between GPL and BSD. Magnus,
since you want to allow static linking, it seems that you are only
interested in Goal 2 mentioned above. As I've explained, I don't think
the LGPL will help too much with that goal, since if a company(like
Apple) doesn't want to cooperate, then you can't really force them.
BSD has the advantage over GPL in that there will be additional
proprietary users of the library who would not be using the library if
it were GPL. Even though they are making proprietary programs, these
library users have incentive to contribute to the project the same as
all other users(see above).

So in summary, if user freedom is important, then GPL is the way to
go. If it's about encouraging the submission of patches and
contributions, then the license won't help you, you simply have to
rely on the good will of people. (But BSD will allow for a larger
community)

Peace,
Bit

2008/9/26 Magnus Therning <[hidden email]>:

> Recently I received an email with a question regarding the licensing
> of a module I've written and uploaded to Hackage.  I released it under
> LGPL.  The sender wondered if I would consider re-licensing the code
> under BSD (or something similar) that would remove the need for users
> to provide linkable object files so that users can re-link programs
> against newer/modified versions of my library.
>
> Now I have fairly strong feelings about freedom of code and I
> everything I release is either under GPL or LGPL.  What I like about
> those licenses is it protects freedom in a way that I think it should
> and it forces a sort of reciprocity which resonates very well with my
> selfishness.  Re-licensing code under BSD is not something I'm willing
> to do without something that compensates for that reciprocity, and I
> can think of several kinds of compensation here but they all pretty
> much boil down to either fame or fortune. ;-)
>
> Once GHC supports dynamic binding on all platforms (or at least the
> major ones) this issue will (largely) go away (thanks Andrew for
> reporting on the state of this), but until then LGPL does create a
> large burden for users of my module.  Until that happens I wouldn't
> mind re-licensing the code under a license that has the reciprocity
> attribute of LGPL on the source level, but does allow for static
> linking without requiring the availability of linkable object files.
> Is there such a license?
>
> I've heard that the OCaml crowd uses a modified LGPL with a static
> linking exception.  Unfortunately I've also heard that their addition
> to LGPL hasn't gotten much review by lawyers, I'd much rather use
> something that feels less ad hoc, if you get what I mean.
>
> Any suggestions?
>
> /M
>
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>
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RE: Hmm, what license to use?

Michael Giagnocavo
>Goal 2 (The "open source" angle): Developers who use the library
>should have to contribute their modifications of the library back to
>the community. I believe that it's wrong to use a license to try to
>enforce such cooperation. Look what happened with KHTML when Apple
>started using it for their Safari web browser. Even though KHTML was

Well, the MPL helps out with this Goal 2 by requiring that you document all modifications (they recommend providing diffs). http://www.mozilla.org/MPL/MPL-1.1.html#section-3.3

-Michael
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Re: Hmm, what license to use?

Ketil Malde-5
In reply to this post by Bit Connor
"Bit Connor" <[hidden email]> writes:

> I believe that it's wrong to use a license to try to enforce such
> cooperation. Look what happened with KHTML when Apple started using
> it for their Safari web browser.

I haven't followed this in detail, but I think that, even when a
company is reluctant to cooporate, it is better to have their code
available than not.

Also, using the LGPL rather than BSD is a clear signal that
contributions are expected for the library, BSD condones making
proprietary forks.

> The FSF advises only to use LGPL in rare cases as a tactic to ensure
> greater freedom further down the line.

They advise to use GPL instead, as a crowbar to force any applications
using the library to be GPL as well.

-k
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Re: Hmm, what license to use?

Bit Connor
In reply to this post by Michael Giagnocavo
On Mon, Sep 29, 2008 at 4:06 AM, Michael Giagnocavo <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>Goal 2 (The "open source" angle): Developers who use the library
>>should have to contribute their modifications of the library back to
>>the community. I believe that it's wrong to use a license to try to
>>enforce such cooperation. Look what happened with KHTML when Apple
>>started using it for their Safari web browser. Even though KHTML was
>
> Well, the MPL helps out with this Goal 2 by requiring that you document all modifications (they recommend providing diffs). http://www.mozilla.org/MPL/MPL-1.1.html#section-3.3
>

However, because of this clause (and others), the MPL is incompatible
with the GPL:

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/license-list.html#MPL
http://www.tomhull.com/ocston/docs/mozgpl.html

If it's not obvious why GPL compatibility is an important thing then
the second link above provides some explanation.
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Re: Hmm, what license to use?

Magnus Therning
In reply to this post by Bit Connor
2008/9/29 Bit Connor <[hidden email]>:
[..]

Basically it seems to me that you believe in the benevolence and
enligtenment of companies.  Something I don't.  I believe you are
right in splitting the LGPL into two different objectives, and you are
right in saying that I really only care about getting changes back.

> So in summary, if user freedom is important, then GPL is the way to
> go. If it's about encouraging the submission of patches and
> contributions, then the license won't help you, you simply have to
> rely on the good will of people. (But BSD will allow for a larger
> community)

Well, I'm not convinced about this.  I fail to see how your use of
Apple is an example of this.  Yes, they clearly didn't get it in the
beginning, but now there seems to be a vibrant community around
Webkit.  Just as a point of comparison, did they do any better (in the
beginning) with the BSD licensed code they use?  I sure haven't heard
anything along those lines anyways.

/M

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Re: Hmm, what license to use?

Don Stewart-2
magnus:

> 2008/9/29 Bit Connor <[hidden email]>:
> [..]
>
> Basically it seems to me that you believe in the benevolence and
> enligtenment of companies.  Something I don't.  I believe you are
> right in splitting the LGPL into two different objectives, and you are
> right in saying that I really only care about getting changes back.
>
> > So in summary, if user freedom is important, then GPL is the way to
> > go. If it's about encouraging the submission of patches and
> > contributions, then the license won't help you, you simply have to
> > rely on the good will of people. (But BSD will allow for a larger
> > community)
>
> Well, I'm not convinced about this.  I fail to see how your use of
> Apple is an example of this.  Yes, they clearly didn't get it in the
> beginning, but now there seems to be a vibrant community around
> Webkit.  Just as a point of comparison, did they do any better (in the
> beginning) with the BSD licensed code they use?  I sure haven't heard
> anything along those lines anyways.
>

The big problem with the LGPL and Haskell is static linking. We can't
use anything we wish to ship commercially that relies on
LGPLd-statically linked-and-inlined Haskell code at the moment.

So if you use LGPL for your Haskell libraries, all of which are
currently statically linked and non-replaceable at runtime, it is
unlikely any commercial Haskell house can use the code.

Note that this *isn't* the case for C libraries, which are dynamically
linked, like libgmp, which is just fine.

This is why the OCaml guys use their untested LGPL+static linking
exception, I guess.

-- Don

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Re: Hmm, what license to use?

Duncan Coutts
On Mon, 2008-09-29 at 14:39 -0700, Don Stewart wrote:

> The big problem with the LGPL and Haskell is static linking. We can't
> use anything we wish to ship commercially that relies on
> LGPLd-statically linked-and-inlined Haskell code at the moment.
>
> So if you use LGPL for your Haskell libraries, all of which are
> currently statically linked and non-replaceable at runtime, it is
> unlikely any commercial Haskell house can use the code.
>
> Note that this *isn't* the case for C libraries, which are dynamically
> linked, like libgmp, which is just fine.

Yet another reason for getting dynamic linking / shared libs for Haskell
packages working reliably on all platforms.

Duncan

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Re: Hmm, what license to use?

Ketil Malde-5
In reply to this post by Don Stewart-2
Don Stewart <[hidden email]> writes:

> So if you use LGPL for your Haskell libraries, all of which are
> currently statically linked and non-replaceable at runtime, it is
> unlikely any commercial Haskell house can use the code.

As already mentioned, you can ask the author nicely for a different
license - BSD for instance.  Or you can fix the dynamic linking issues
in GHC, as Duncan points out.  But you can also use it for *open
source* software (which is non-proprietary, but may still be
commercial).

I think LGPL works nicely for open source software - unlike the GPL,
which would force the entire program to be released under that
license, there should be no problem shipping a BSD- or MPL-licensed
program using an LGPL library, as long as source is available.

-k
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Re: Hmm, what license to use?

Magnus Therning
In reply to this post by Don Stewart-2
On Mon, Sep 29, 2008 at 10:39 PM, Don Stewart <[hidden email]> wrote:

> magnus:
>> 2008/9/29 Bit Connor <[hidden email]>:
>> [..]
>>
>> Basically it seems to me that you believe in the benevolence and
>> enligtenment of companies.  Something I don't.  I believe you are
>> right in splitting the LGPL into two different objectives, and you are
>> right in saying that I really only care about getting changes back.
>>
>> > So in summary, if user freedom is important, then GPL is the way to
>> > go. If it's about encouraging the submission of patches and
>> > contributions, then the license won't help you, you simply have to
>> > rely on the good will of people. (But BSD will allow for a larger
>> > community)
>>
>> Well, I'm not convinced about this.  I fail to see how your use of
>> Apple is an example of this.  Yes, they clearly didn't get it in the
>> beginning, but now there seems to be a vibrant community around
>> Webkit.  Just as a point of comparison, did they do any better (in the
>> beginning) with the BSD licensed code they use?  I sure haven't heard
>> anything along those lines anyways.
>>
>
> The big problem with the LGPL and Haskell is static linking. We can't
> use anything we wish to ship commercially that relies on
> LGPLd-statically linked-and-inlined Haskell code at the moment.
>
> So if you use LGPL for your Haskell libraries, all of which are
> currently statically linked and non-replaceable at runtime, it is
> unlikely any commercial Haskell house can use the code.
AFAIU you could, but you'd have to supply linkable objects of your
proprietary code so that others can relink with a newer version of the
LGPL'd module.  It's a pain for sure and I've found no instructions
anywhere for how to do that.

/M

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Re: Hmm, what license to use?

Jeremy O'Donoghue
In reply to this post by Don Stewart-2

On Mon, 29 Sep 2008 14:39:33 -0700, "Don Stewart" <[hidden email]>
said:

> magnus:
> > 2008/9/29 Bit Connor <[hidden email]>:
> > [..]
> >
> > Basically it seems to me that you believe in the benevolence and
> > enligtenment of companies.  Something I don't.  I believe you are
> > right in splitting the LGPL into two different objectives, and you are
> > right in saying that I really only care about getting changes back.
> >
> > > So in summary, if user freedom is important, then GPL is the way to
> > > go. If it's about encouraging the submission of patches and
> > > contributions, then the license won't help you, you simply have to
> > > rely on the good will of people. (But BSD will allow for a larger
> > > community)
[...]

>
> The big problem with the LGPL and Haskell is static linking. We can't
> use anything we wish to ship commercially that relies on
> LGPLd-statically linked-and-inlined Haskell code at the moment.
>
> So if you use LGPL for your Haskell libraries, all of which are
> currently statically linked and non-replaceable at runtime, it is
> unlikely any commercial Haskell house can use the code.
>
> Note that this *isn't* the case for C libraries, which are dynamically
> linked, like libgmp, which is just fine.

I am not allowed to use such an interpretation. The (expensive and very
carefully researched) legal advice used to shape the use of Open Source
code at my employer has resulted in a "no LGPL under any circumstances
whatsoever" policy.

I believe that the core issue is that the terms of the LGPL are far more
open to differing interpretations than GPL (which is pretty clear in its
provisions).

Therefore, I have to say that for at least some commercial users, LGPL
will never be acceptable, and GPL is actually more acceptable because we
know for sure what obligations it places on us.

That still leaves anyone free to use LGPL if they want to, but please
don't assume that it allows commercial use by all potential users.

> This is why the OCaml guys use their untested LGPL+static linking
> exception, I guess.

The key word here being "untested", although in *most* jurisdictions,
the
clear intention behind such a clause would probably be respected.

wxWidgets (and wxHaskell, to which I contribute, and which of necessity
takes the wxWidgets license) uses a similarly untested LGPL + "you may
use, copy, link, modify and distribute under your own terms, binary
object
code versions of works based on the Library" clause.

I can live with this as it's a hobby project for me, but my employer
will
probably never distribute software based on wxHaskell (Haskell is
already
a hard sell (for non-license reasons), although we're sneaking it in,
bit
by bit :-)

Jeremy
--
  Jeremy O'Donoghue
  [hidden email]

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Re: Hmm, what license to use?

Ketil Malde-5
"Jeremy O'Donoghue" <[hidden email]> writes:

> Therefore, I have to say that for at least some commercial users, LGPL
> will never be acceptable, and GPL is actually more acceptable because we
> know for sure what obligations it places on us.

I don't see how this can be, since according to clause 2b of the LGPL,
you are free to distribute modified copies under the GPL.

-k
--
If I haven't seen further, it is by standing in the footprints of giants
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Re: Hmm, what license to use?

Stefan Monnier
In reply to this post by Jeremy O'Donoghue
> I am not allowed to use such an interpretation. The (expensive and very
> carefully researched) legal advice used to shape the use of Open Source
> code at my employer has resulted in a "no LGPL under any circumstances
> whatsoever" policy.
[...]
> That still leaves anyone free to use LGPL if they want to, but please
> don't assume that it allows commercial use by all potential users.

It *does* allow commercial use.  Your example just shows that some
people may decide not to take advantage of it, based not on problematic
restrictions but just on paranoia.


        Stefan

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Re: Re: Hmm, what license to use?

brian-245
On Tue, Sep 30, 2008 at 8:54 PM, Stefan Monnier
<[hidden email]> wrote:
>> That still leaves anyone free to use LGPL if they want to, but please
>> don't assume that it allows commercial use by all potential users.
>
> It *does* allow commercial use.  Your example just shows that some
> people may decide not to take advantage of it, based not on problematic
> restrictions but just on paranoia.

I was confused and worried about this subject lately, too; at some
point in the future, I may want to ship closed-source commercial
software that uses various LGPL libraries. But it doesn't seem to be
as big a problem as I imagined. My understanding is that I can satisfy
the requirements of the LGPL by dynamically linking, and that's
already happening. Is there something else to worry about? I'd be in
violation if I shipped something statically linked, but cabal doesn't
seem inclined to do that by default.
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