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From Scott Robert Ladd <>
Subject Re: The (new) Jisp 3.0 license
Date Fri, 20 Feb 2004 16:51:45 GMT
Steven Noels wrote:
> We kindly ask you to consider these issues and get back to us at your 
> convenience. The Cocoon PMC list ( is private to 
> PMC members only, if you would like to make a public comment feel free 
> to do that on

I've CC'd this to the list above; I'd appreciate it if any discussion 
would be CC'd back to me as well. Please read the entire message before 
commenting; it may start out sounding a bit negative, but in the end, I 
think you get what you want. :)

> let me first start with thanking you for a wonderful set of tools, which 
> we have eagerly been using over the years.

I'm glad to know it was useful.

> Cocoon has been using Jisp for quite some time, and it served us well as 
> a migration from a filesystem based cache store. We have been hitting 
> some Jisp bugs lately, which made us looking forward to migrate to the 
> upcoming 3.0 version.

Older versions of Jisp did, indeed, have some problems; initially, Jisp 
was an algorithmic demonstration for one of my books, and it was not 
intended for "real world use".

Given the number of people who have used Jisp, I decided to refactor the 
package in a more professional form. Thus, Jisp 3.0, which is based on 
the code I use in commercial products.

> Quite to our surprise however, we just found out that Jisp 3 now comes 
> with the MySQL-like combo-license: GPL + commercial licensing possibility.
> Of course, we cannot and will not have any say into which license you 
> should use for your products, since it's your blood and tears that went 
> into it. As open source developers however, we have some considerations 
> about licenses which we'd like to confront you with.

I appreciate your talking to me about this. Please indulge me in a bit 
of background story, so you understand why I changed licenses.

I'm not a twenty-something college student who can afford to hack free 
software for free; I am an independent business man and forty-something 
father of three. My first "free" products appeared back in the 1980s, 
and I've written several programming books, so I'm a long-time believer 
in sharing code with the community. A society can not progress if 
knowledge is kept secret.

As such, I originally released Jisp under a libpng-style license.

In the last year or so, I've been hounded by people who "demand" support 
for Jisp -- including those who use Jisp via Apache. While I politely 
inform them that my time isn't free, the frequency of such requests is 
increasing. When I request some form of renumeration for providing 
support, they act as if I've suggested concourse with a devil.

My frustration lies with people who use and praise Jisp without any 
feeling of obligation to me, other than a hearty handshake (at best). My 
frustration grows when I know that people are profiting from my code, 
without so much as an acknowledgement.

I am not a greedy soul, and excess wealth is not one of my goals in 
life; however, I have three daughters, a wife, and a managerie of 
critters that need my financial support. These are dark economic times 
in our industry; survival for an independent consultant (like me) is 
tenuous even in the best of times.

For me, the change in license (to the GPL) is an attempt to find equity 
in people's use of my code. "Fairness" is, of course, a matter of 
perception. In my case, I have received nothing from the Apache project 
beyond the "hearty handshake" level. It's not that I don't want Apache 
to use Jisp -- it's that I know people are paid to work on Apache, and 
that many people make money selling Apache support and services.

It seems to me that those who find value in my creation should also be 
willing to reward me for my contribution.

> The ASF policy is not to use, link or distribute software (components) 
> which use the (L)GPL license, since these licenses prohibit the 
> redistribution of ASF software linking, using or embedding such 
> dependencies along the same terms as the Apache Software License (1 or 
> 2) allows.

I am not a fan of Mr. Stallman's religion; however, his license does 
have the weight of support behind it at this point, and using GPL solves 
a number of problems I've had in being compatible with some other "free" 

> With the new ASL, it is allowed that ASF software is (re)packaged as a 
> new open source project which is distributed under the GPL. Adding onto 
> that, we regard the new ASL as being compatible with the GPL, while the 
> FSF decided the contrary, without tangible reason: a matter of policy 
> rather than legal differences, so it seems. So we have a bit of an issue 
> with the GPL, to put it frankly.

Ah, more of Mr. Stallman's pedantry -- one of the reasons I resisted the 
GPL for many years.

> The license change of Jisp is most likely going to force us to replace 
> Jisp by some other dbm. Other ASF projects which use Jisp will be forced 
> to do the same. This is bad since we, apart from some small issues, were 
> quite happy with Jisp and had no technical reason to move away. And 
> since we are a volunteer organization, things we are forced to do are 
> always much harder than things we like to work on - I'm sure you 
> understand that.

As I've said, I'm not a greedy person; I'm willing tio resolve the issue 
by giving Apache a unique license that eliminates the contention. Let me 
know what your requirements are; I can allow Apache to continue using 
Jisp under the libpng-style license, for example.

Perhaps Apache's developers could consider ways in which you could 
respond in kind? If not in money, then perhaps in other ways.

In particular, it needs to be made very clear to Apache's users that 
they can not expect (or demand) free support for Jisp from me. I simply 
can't afford it.

> Adding onto that, we saw ample reference being made on 
> to the Apache project. It's a 
> bit awkward to see us being used as a reference "customer" case, while 
> at the same time being made impossible to use your library.

I wouldn't say "ample reference"; a couple of links is about all. It's 
not like I make any claim to being part of the Apache project, nor have 
I received a single commercial client via my tangental association with 
Apache. The main reason I list Apache by name is that my commercial 
applications of Jisp are covered by various non-disclosure agreements; 
it's nice to associate with a name that people recognize. If you 
strenuously object, I'll be more than happy to remove the association.

I think we can work this out to everyone's satisfaction.


Scott Robert Ladd
Coyote Gulch Productions (
Software Invention for High-Performance Computing

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