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Re: GPL v LGPL for libraries

Hamish Moffatt wrote:

> Let's say a commercial application runs on proprietary Unix platform Y,
> and uses library Z, supplied with Y. On a system like Debian, if our
> equivalent to Z is LGPLed, then the commercial app will be fine.

If a free library is designed to be a drop-in replacement for an
existing, proprietary library then I think a good case can be made for
using LGPL for that library.  But that is a small percentage of
libraries.  Other libraries offering new features have no reason not to
be GPL'd.  In fact, at the last SVLUG meeting, RMS argued eloquently
that such libraries SHOULD be GPL'd rather than LGPL'd.

> If Z' is GPL, then the commercial app can't be ported to Linux.

Unless the commercial app is GPL'd.  Are you avoiding the term
"proprietary app" for a reason?  Like, you think people won't respond as
favorably if you admit that you're talking about proprietary apps?

> A lot of big companies are not about to make their app GPL

Well, yes, that's true.  OTOH, if it's a proprietary app, it's really
not of much concern to Debian, is it?  Debian is about free software,
last I checked.

I was using GPL'd code in commercial apps (and corresponding with RMS
about the fine points of the GPL) long before the Linux kernel  -- let
alone Debian -- even existed, so don't tell me I don't understand the
issues for commercial developers.

> so the end result is that the Linux users loses out.

First of all, as I pointed out, this argument only holds water when
you're talking about free clones of non-free libraries.  It has no
relevence when discussing the licensing of other free libraries.

Second of all, it assumes that the availability of proprietary
applications is an advantage to the user.  I think this is a highly
debatable point.  I agree that there are cases where it happens to be
true at present, but I consider this a bug ( :-) )  and work is underway
to fix the problem in most cases.  *I'm* not losing out by not having
proprietary apps, because, for the most part, I wouldn't run them even
if they *were* available.

Not moved to debian-legal because this is a moral, not legal issue.  :-)
Chris Waters   xtifr@dsp.net | I have a truly elegant proof of the
      or    xtifr@debian.org | above, but it is too long to fit into
http://www.dsp.net/xtifr     | this .signature file.

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