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From Peter Donald <>
Subject Re: licensing (was: Ant gui tool)
Date Sun, 22 Oct 2000 14:02:48 GMT
>> Long story short what RMS saids tends to turn out to be "true". His opinion
>> has known to change overtime thou - sometimes over very short periods of
>> time. The opinion is however what guides the fsf and thus can lead to
>> "interesting" biases. For example it is acceptable to work with X
>> consortium but not acceptable to work with Apache. Why ? Political
>> motivations. See who runs X and how much influence they have.
>This is not my experience. When I emailed the FSF or RMS about licensing
>issues they would consult a laywer or put me in contact with one of their
>laywers that looked at it to interpret the different licenses and copyright
>law. I have never seen any purely political motivations for deciding if
>a license was GPL compatible. Code distributed under the MIT X license for
>example is always distributable together with GPL covered code whoever
>distributes it. This is not specific to the X consortium.

Right - but technically speaking this shouldn't be the case. FSF/GNU only
allow this by considering it a system component (and covered by GPL clause
3). However even then you can not distribute X code together with GPL code
unless it only links against X libraries (that are not specific to a
particular server implementation).

X is in a similar situation to Apache - they want it to be free (as in beer
and as in freedom) but not copyleft. It was for a long time incompatable
with GPL but GNU did not encourage hackers to compete with it but allowed
them to cooperate. Eventually to get around the licensing problem (which
many "GPL" programs violated) they started considering it a system component. 

Personally I think they should do the same with java standard extentions
because then most of problems would go away (assuming APL became GPL
compatable aswell). The copyleft free software movement will never be able
to duplicate the standard libraries of javba because of the pace at which
java moves and because the development model is sucking away java
developers (even thou the sun community license is sooo bad in so many ways).

>They have always been very cooperative to explain the difficulties and
>suggest solutions when you want to distribute GPL covered code together
>with some other code. Maybe that has not always been so, but I think that
>the email that Jon Schewe forwarded to the list shows that this is currently
>certainly the case.

depends - RMS is very very helpful until he decides he doesn't approve of
your project ;) It has never occured to me but I have heard horror stories
and many othre rumors. Many of them have to be wrong but I suspect there is
a kernel of truth there. He has always helped me thou and always helped
anyone that I am aware of that wants to release free software. 

>> [...]
>> you ever heard of sarcasm ? RMS/GNU does not approve of APL and discourages
>> anyone from using it or developing software at Apache. He used to be a lot
>> more opinionated against Apache a while ago and that was one of the reasons
>> it took me so long to begin to trust Apache. 
>Sorry I didn't notice that you were sarcastic. I have now read some more
>of your emails on this subject and noticed that you do know a lot about
>the issues involved. But this email seemed to me to be just a flame against
>RMS with a lot of FUD.

oops - soz ;)
I was possibly getting annoyed. Since I started discussing these issues on
ant and other lists I have been getting a lot of flames directed at my
personal mailbox. Many of them can be basically distilled to "You suck !
RMS/GNU/GPL is god ! You are a fool/liar/idiot !" so I my patience is
starting to run thin ;)

>Your other emails were very constructive and did offer suggestions on
>how people could combine GPL and APL. We should try to concentrate on
>offering people solutions like dual licensing or using a license (such
>as the MIT X license or modern BSD license) that is compatible with both
>the APL and GPL.

Around december I am going to start lobbying the PMC to change the few
clauses left that cause problems. However even if we can do this 90% (or
all ???) of the projects use proprietry code - whether that be javamail,
jndi providers, activation, etc which prevents licensing under GPL.
Hopefully the projects like xerces/xalan that are "pure" APL will be able
to be used by GPL projects thou.

>And I really hope that some people can come together this ApacheCon and
>settle this once and for all. It would be so good if the APL would finaly
>be GPL compatible then we wouldn't have to have such discussion anymore
>and just combine code however we wanted. And making the APL GPL compatible
>isn't that diffucult. Either clauses 4 and 5 have to be altered to not
>state their conditions as extra restrictions (use the word please, not must).
>Or split it into a seperate copyright and trademark license.

Now I once was (and maybe will be in future) a defender of GPL or other
free + copyleft licenses but only if you play by the rules. However it is
not appropriate to java libraries atm. Of all the java GPL projects that I
am aware of only a handful (the gnu.* packages) actually comply. Have a
look at for all java + gpl projects and check how many are
*really* GPL. You may find 1-2 in the 2-300 there. 

It is ridiculous - people use the GPL to "protect themselves" and defend
the "freedom fighters" but do this by attacking the integrity of GPL. Even
when they are made aware that they are not complying with GPL they say fuck
it and continue doing it. 

So please don't think I am attacking the GPL - I am more attacking the
people who illogically think it fits all sizes regardless of legalities.
Many of these projects actually release it under GPL to spite projects like
apache and block apache sharing code (I know of at least 3 that I suspect
did this). They also tend to use apache stuff despite that not being GPL
compatable ! Baah - just frustration I guess ;)

>P.S. Could we take this to another list (is there a general apache license
>list?) This has nothing to do with Ant anymore but I think it is important to
>discuss these matters since there will always be people that want to
>combine APL covered code with GPL covered code and distribute the results.
>I think it would be very good to make a FAQ about these issues.

Umm there are general-jakarta, general-java and general-xml and it is
probably possible to discuss it there. However I believe some of PMC will
be discussing it at ApacheCon (or perhaps right at this moment at the
hackathon) and will develope a FAQ/document discussing such details.
Hopefully it will eventually make it jakarta web pages.

If it doesn't happen by the end of the year I will probably get off my but
and do it myself and try to get it approved. At the moment there is a few
GPL libraries I want to convert to APL but can't because other GPL
libraries rely on them so you can be sure I will continue to try to get
apache to make APL GPL compatable ;)



| "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want |
| to test a man's character, give him power."          |
|       -Abraham Lincoln                               |

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