Re: Relative merits of GPL, LGPL, BSD
From: Bill Unruh (unruh_at_string.physics.ubc.ca)
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2004 04:08:10 +0000 (UTC)
Madhusudan Singh <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
]On Monday 26 April 2004 01:13, Bill Unruh (email@example.com)
]held forth in comp.os.linux.misc (<firstname.lastname@example.org>):
]Thanks for the response.
]> ]> 2. No warranty, express or implied.
]> ]Most licenses have this.
]> This condition is almost certainly invalid and is put into the licenses
]> to intimidate the recipient. Note that if you give away your program,
]> you are probably less liable than if you sell it. Most states/countries
]This is something I have never quite understood. The user is never forced to
]use the software, least of all free GPL/LGPL software. If he / she uses it
]in spite of a clear disclaimer of warranty, shouldn't the user be
]responsible for any damage that might happen (it almost never happens in
]practice, but still from a matter of principle, I am curious) ?
No. I hand you software which I say displays a calender on your system.
Instead it wipes your hard disk and runs your cpu at ull speed while
switching off the cpu fan. And responsibility for this should reside
with you because noone forced you to use it? Hardly. My words as to what
the software does should carry some responsibility on my part that those
words are true surely.
]> expressly disallow attempts to disallow warrenties. Especially with
]> licenses which the user is not allowed to argue with you.
]> The bind you since you wrote them. They do not bind the recipient. (As I
]> said the courts might rule that since nothing of value exchanged hands
]> from teh recipient to you, no contract exists.)
]Well, that is a relief. Though in some countries, contract law does not
]require any recompensation to be a defining act, mere use is enough.
I think most contracts demand exchange of value to be valid. What
country are you refering to?
]> ]> 5. I want an acknowledgement to appear whenever the library is used
]> (this is ]> not an absolute must - so I can accept a weaker license).
]> To appear where? In the source code? On teh screen whenever a program is
]> run? Published in the New York Times?
]That ought to be obvious, now, isn't it ? If you write a report in which you
]used the software, acknowledge it (this practice is very common in
]scientific research for instance when you borrow figures (with permission)
]from someone's research papers for a book). I do not know where the
]allusion to NYT came from :)
Giving examples, from possible to extreme, of what you could mean.
Giving acknowledgements in publications is not something most software
users would think of.
]I did not think so at the time (barring number 3, which I had doubts about).
]My most overriding concern is to prevent someone from using the code in
]closed source programs and making money off it.
GPL does that.
]Two questions :
]1. On sourceforge.net, they allow you to change the nature of the license at
]any time (as long as the versions already released are always available
]with the license they were released under). That raises an interesting
]question. Assume that I release library A under LGPL. A few years down the
]road, I decide that I want to make it a BSD license. Wouldn't newer
]versions of the library necessarily be derivants of the old LGPL'ed code ?
You own the copyright. You can copyright it as you like. It is your
license. The license binds you only in so far as you grant others
rights. Remember a license is only a hunting license allowing you to
sue others for violation. If you feel that you are in danger of suing
yourself when you change the license, then I would worry about it. If
not, then don't worry about it.
And even in jurisdictions where copyright is under criminal law, the law
would be extremely unlikely to sue the copyright holder.
]In which case, releasing a new version under BSD would necessarily
]contradict the terms of LGPL ? Or am I missing something there ?
Yes, you are missing that it is your license.
]2. How are GPL and LGPL actually enforced ? Say you wrote some code and
]released it under GPL. Then by some twist of luck, someone find out that M$
]is using some part of that code (ok - the design of that code with
]variables changed, but you can prove that it was lifted off your code - I
]won't be surprised if there are many such skeletons in M$'s cupboard, given
]their history). Who sues M$ for license violations ? You, or person who
]found out, or FSF ? What if you do not have the money necessary for a trial
]? Is there a community legal support structure that can take on M$ ?
copyright is civil law. You sue. Noone else can as they have no
standing. Only you have standing.
In a fight against MS, FSF might help, if the case was clear enough.
A copyright license is just a hunting license. You have to buy the gun,
and go out to where you can hunt, and find the bear.