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Re: Your petition to GPL Qt

On Sun, Dec 20, 1998 at 09:31:17PM -0700, Richard Stallman wrote:
>       ... A combined work would have a shared Copyright
>     and still be under the GNU GPL which would prevent Troll Tech from
>     releasing the combined work under other licensing terms.
>     This would almost certainly cause a rift to develop between their
>     Professional Edition and their Free Edition as development forks into at
>     least two directions...
> To release Qt under the GNU GPL would save the free software community
> a lot of trouble.  If worries about a fork are the reason
> that Troll Tech is not doing this, maybe I can help.

Maybe you can at that.

> I'd be willing to promise to actively urge programmers to avoid such a
> fork, in this way:
>     If Troll Tech releases Qt under the GPL, and if they are willing to
>     make a promise to a contributor that "All of your code that we use in
>     any way, will appear in the GPL-covered release of Qt",
>     then I am willing to personally urge that contributor to cooperate
>     fully with Troll Tech, and allow them to use his code under their
>     non-free license, as well as under the GPL.

I see two difficulties with this.  While I admit you doing that would
have a great and positive impact on the amount of code Troll Tech would
be able to incorporate, using a non-GNU license, be it compatible with
the GNU licenses or not may be better from a technical standpoint.

The reason I think this would be better is that while someone could
easily GPL their patch for Qt and license it also such that Troll Tech
could use it, they might use other people's GPL code which they don't
have permission to give permission for Troll Tech to relicense.  This
problem does not go away under a non-GNU license, but having the
difference should at least have the patch author aware the license is not
the GPL and hopefully they would take the licensing issues under more
serious consideration.

The other reason they might be better off going with a non-GNU license is
that the GNU General Public License is essentially compatible with itself
and any license which has either sublicensing (LGPL) or which have terms
which apply no restrictions the GPL does not.  Licenses which fail the
GPL compatibility test include the original BSD license (advertising
clause), the perl Artistic license (does things differently than the GPL
does), the various licenses Netscape has come up with, and probably a few
others I may or may not know about but are still free software.

Troll Tech's stated goal is to be compatible with all of these licenses
which meet the Open Source Definition (and because of the origins of that
document, the Debian Free Software Guidelines)  Using the GPL would cause
that to be not easily possible.  Using the LGPL would harm Troll Tech's
interests severely--we can all agree to that.

The best solution then is to write a license which is compatible with the
OSD/DFSG--including the GPL.  This is what I am trying to accomplish.  I
do realize that to accomplish this runs at least some rish of forded
development, but I think I can minimize this if I am careful to indicate
Troll's preferences in the license but still allow pretty much everything
the GPL does.  The Trolls are a little worried about forking if the
license allows it too easily.

> I think the benefit of having Qt available under a better license, and
> one that's compatible with GNU software, would be worth that effort.

I think it's worth a lot of effort, personally.  I devoted two weeks to
working on 0.90 to create what became 0.91, and I'm still willing to do
whatever is necessary to make it compatible with the GPL.

>       Troll Tech wishes anyone to be able to
>     use their Free Edition to produce Free Software, under any Free Software
>     license.
> The QPL does not achieve this goal; it does not allow combining Qt
> with a program under the GPL.
> If they want to allow this, in addition to allowing other free
> software licenses that the current QPL allows, I can help.

I'll make sure to Cc you when I toss my next set of proposed changes on
the table for nitpicking, commenting, and trying to see if it will do
what we all hope for.  I'm confident I can do it and I hope Troll Tech
likes the results.

NO ONE expects the Spanish Inquisition!

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