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From Rob Weir <>
Subject Re: GPL'd dictionaries (was Re:
Date Sun, 06 Nov 2011 21:55:16 GMT
On Sun, Nov 6, 2011 at 4:10 PM, Dennis E. Hamilton
<> wrote:
> +1 I heartily agree with Dave's suggestion.
> The issue has been made very clear by Andrea and I think it would be good to raise an
issue on the LEGAL JIRA.  (Registration required, but I don't think committer status is needed.)
 Also, legal-discuss@ is an useful place, but my experience is that eventually
a LEGAL JIRA issue will obtain more consistent attention.

Just make sure that you explain what a spell checking dictionary is.
Otherwise any legal types will be confused.  This is not a dictionary
like Webster's, with words and definitions, where the definitions are
creative content.  A spell checking dictionary is more of a word list.
  I'm not sure what the creative expression is in a list of all common
words in a language and how that could be copyrighted.  Of course, I
am not a lawyer.  But this case seems relevant:

> I also think Pedro raises an important concern.  My sense of other materials I have
seen about that is binaries (or at least not human-readable and editable) might work since
it is possible to make it clear that a non-Apache license applies and there is no confusion
by having source anywhere in a release for something with an unacceptable license.  I don't
know how this applies to the present case.  I suspect it has some bearing on how safe inclusion
of various dictionaries in binary distributions is seen to be.
>  - Dennis
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dave Fisher []
> Sent: Sunday, November 06, 2011 12:57
> To:
> Subject: Re: GPL'd dictionaries (was Re:
> HI Andrea,
> This looks like some good questions for Apache Legal. You should send this to legal-discuss@a.o.
> Regards,
> Dave
> 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 apply.
>> 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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