[clug-talk] Article on Licensing

Robert Lewko lewkor at telus.net
Mon Nov 22 10:29:23 PST 2004

On November 22, 2004 10:29 pm, Jarrod Major wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1730779,00.asp
> What do people think about this? I know that I have been reading up on this
> topic. There has been more interest in Creative Commons as well.
> With the contention over Intellectual Property this certainly feels like an
> issue that is likely to get worse before it gets better. SCO was only the
> start. Last week there was the news about MS threatening litigation against
> Asian governments using Linux. Both are issues about IP violations.
> Most of us know this to be FUD but it begs the deeper question: are our
> licenses strong enough? Or more importantly, can programming constructs
> that we rely upon actually be copyrighted or patented or otherwise deemed
> as something that can be licensed? It makes my head spin thinking about the
> legal ramifications. Groklaw is great for explaining some of these issues
> but this is so entrenched where does one begin to fathom it all? Where does
> one start to fight for fair use of copyrighted material or IP?
> This is one area where I would like to see a champion.

Generally, I may not have thought this through as thouroughly as some (say 
Aaron perhaps), but my opinion is this:

If a software project is a piece of infrastructure, by that I mean a protocol 
implementation, a library that reads and writes a file format or something 
that implements authentication, then I would mandate that that software be 
licenced under the GPL.  Generally, any software that allows programs to 
interoperate shall be GPL or LGPL if GPL licencing would limit its adoption.  
In addition there may be certain applications that I would add to this list.

In my ideal world OS's would use the GPL.  What I have observed is that under 
this licence, the most varied development happens while creating the climate 
for the least forks.  Look at the number of versions of BSD to see what 
happens under the BSD licence.

Using the LGPL for libraries like Kerberos, libraries that write file formats 
etc.; generally, any software that provides interoperablilty between 
applications(wow is that ever general) is where I'd use the GPL or LGPL.  
Would MS have been able to add the incompatibilities to Kerberos if it were 
licenced under the LGPL?

That leaves everything else for the other licences.  If an author wants to 
licence an application under the BSD licence and a company takes the code and 
commercializes it without his consent then so be it!

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