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From Brian Behlendorf <br...@collab.net>
Subject Re: LGPL and "the Hibernate clause".
Date Fri, 31 Dec 2004 02:14:43 GMT

Hello again.  The feedback I heard from the last post here (I can resend 
if anyone needs it), attempting to at least clarify the situation, was 
positive.  I had a chance to discuss this issue with Robyn (ASF Counsel) 
and Jason Schultz (an EFF lawyer volunteering time) on this topic.  Some 
ideas that came out of that, in response to the questions I posed:

> a) Is the Hibernate "clarification" clear enough for us, and our user 
> community, and their lawyers, to be comfortable that the Apache project is 
> not tainted by the LGPL dependency?

One thing we wrestled with was the word "use" in the Hibernate clause. 
To us and to Hibernate, it may be obvious that "use" means exercising all 
the actions associated with copyright - to copy so as to use for one's own 
purposes, to make a copy and redistribute, to modify, etc.  It's not clear 
to us that a lawyer in Kentucky, if asked to rule in a case where the 
Hibernate language hinged, would have that same understanding.

Furthermore, they talk about "modified" and "unmodified", but from 
discussions with certain people it sounds like it may be difficult or 
impossible to effectively "use" Hibernate without modifying it such that 
it can be incorporated into a product.  Certainly, it should be possible 
to modify Hibernate under the terms of the LGPL and redistribute that 
modified work without that modification causing the rest of one's 
application to also fall under the LGPL.  So the concern is that this 
clause "clarifies" the LGPL about as much as the FSF's own "clarification" 

Finally, there's a question as to whether every person who has contributed 
to Hibernate, presumably with the idea that they are contributing to an 
LGPL-licensed work, also agrees with the Hibernate clarification.  There's 
the possibility down the road, for example, that an individual 
contributor challenges someone's use of Hibernate, saying they have a more 
strict interpretation of the LGPL.

This is just Jason and Robyn speaking, though; personally, after walking 
through it, I'm also of the opinion that it doesn't reassure me enough. 
So we started talking about alternatives, and means to fix the 
what-about-other-contributors problem.

> b) Is there a better clarification we could suggest to Hibernate and others 
> like them who want to use the LGPL with a clarification?

Jason and I came up with language that seems reasonable; I believe it's 
worth putting in front of the Hibernate developers and asking them what 
they think:

   Any incorporation of Hibernate under or within another application under
   any other license will not cause the LGPL to apply to that other
   application.  Modifications to Hibernate must also fall under the LGPL.
   Compilation of the other application and Hibernate (together or
   separately) is not considered a modification.


> c) Or should we press harder for the projects to use another modest-copyleft 
> license, like the MPL or CPL?

If they're resistant to the idea of modifying the above clause, I believe 
we should encourage them in this direction.  Other thoughts?


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