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From Dave Fisher <>
Subject Re: GPL'd dictionaries (was Re:
Date Sun, 06 Nov 2011 19:56:35 GMT
HI Andrea,

This looks like some good questions for Apache Legal. You should send this to legal-discuss@a.o.


On Nov 6, 2011, at 11:06 AM, Andrea Pescetti wrote:

> On 05/11/2011 Gianluca Turconi wrote:
>> 2011/11/5 Pedro Giffuni
>>> I have been looking at the situation of the dictionaries,
>>> and particular the italian dictionary.
>>> You are right that it will not be covered by the SGA.
> Sure, and to be more precise there are no portions of which Oracle has the copyright
in the Italian dictionary. And we are discussing about three completeley separate tools (this
is true of all languages): a dictionary (used for spell-checking), a thesaurus (for synonyms)
and hyphenations patterns. Each has its own licence and copyright holders; in most cases,
hyphenation patterns come from the LaTeX project.
>>> Perhaps more worrying is that the italian dictionary is
>>> the only dictionary under the GPL; most others are triple
>>> licensed (LGPL/MPL/GPL).
>>> We are not allowed to use it, so it will be removed
>>> from the SVN server for sure.
> The fundamental thing to consider here is that dictionaries cannot be considered like
libraries, for the following reasons:
> - dictionaries are not code; their binary form is coincident with their
source form.
> - dictionaries are not a dependency: they are pluggable data files, and
they are packaged (all of them, even in the installer for native builds) as extensions to
remark that there is no dependency whatsoever on them.
> - dictionaries fall in the "mere aggregation" provision in the GPL license;
even though it is customary to distribute a package containing, say, the Italian version of and the Italian dictionary, it is considered the same as distributing an Ubuntu
ISO file, containing software with different licenses aggregated together.
> The existing Apache policy probably assumes that we are talking about code and that the
(L)GPL libraries constitute a dependency, and it was probably built by examining what the
implications of (L)GPL components would have been in that case. But this is a much different
>>> I am not a lawyer and I don't have any idea how the
>>> GPL could be enforced in this case, but things are not nice.
> I can't understand these worries about enforcing the GPL. We even got an answer from
the Free Software Foundation that said it is absolutely OK to include GPL dictionaries into, since it is "mere aggregation"; see the (long) story in
>> We've discussed a lot about this issue, but  there isn't any consensus yet
>> about *how *to solve the problem, in a pragmatic way that doesn't include a
>> license change.
> Gianluca is right, in our situation we won't be able to change the license of the dictionary
and thesaurus (at least, not to Apache License); we might get the hyphenation patterns released
under the Apache License, but since virtually all of them are taken from the LaTeX project
it's probably better that the legal team checks whether it's fine to import from the LaTeX
project with the existing license.
>> An AOOo without a native language GUI and linguistic tools would be just
>> useless outside the anglosaxon world and, indeed, a rather disastrous
>> presentation of the new project for people who don't speak English.
> Sure, especially considering that the project description says that supports
110 languages...
> What I would recommend is:
> 1) Recheck the Apache policy and find out the rationale behind it; I have nothing to
teach to the legal team, but this is a very rare case where the "virality" of GPL does not
> 2) See if we can find a way to keep dictionaries as they are; note that no dictionary
is developed in the OOo trunk, they are synchronized from time to time, usually before a release;
the Italian dictionary SVN trunk, for example, is not in the OOo sources. Even just the possibility
to provide an extension that can be included in binary releases would be OK for me.
> 3) If there is really no way to include a GPL extension this way, then we should think
about downloading the extension at installation time. But we managed to get Sun and the FSF
agree to ship dictionaries in the most convenient way (i.e., included in the installer), so
we might succeed this time as well.
> Regards,
>  Andrea.

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