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Re: GPLv3 / Affero / RPSL

On Mon, Mar 17, 2003 at 09:44:42AM -0600, John Goerzen wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 17, 2003 at 02:48:52AM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
> > As you well know, the role of "spokesman for Debian" was arrogated by
> > Joseph Carter, who failed to, as I recall, accurately convey to
> > TrollTech the concerns about the QPL being expressed at the time.  In
> > fact, so far as I know we have no record of his correspondence with them
> > on this issue.
> No disputes there; however, it was Debian's responsibility to ensure that
> our spokesman -- official or not -- was accurately reflecting our concerns
> and communicating back do us.  Failing that, Debian should have replaced him
> -- or at least had some other people participate in the discussions.  So I
> don't think it's entirely a case of being able to pin it all on Joseph; the
> rest of us should have seen it coming and done something about it.  (I
> include myself in that group)

Agreed; I was not attempting to imply that one developer's soiling of
the carpet absolved the rest of us from the responsibility of cleaning
it up.  But at the same time, the primary responsibility for the mess
*does* lie with he who made it.  :)

> > They were big enough to admit that they erred with Qt's licensing
> > initially, and they did not lose the respect of the community.  Indeed,
> I think they did lose a lot of respect, and people continue to harbor ill
> will.

I see that loss of respect as stemming from the original licensing
decision, not the later one where they dual-licensed under the GPL.

>  In one surprisingly candid post[1] from Miguel de Icaza in response to
> a Petrely article critizing Gnome that ran on Slashdot, Miguel stated:
>  "Those with long-term visions believe strongly that the foundation
>   for building applications on Linux should be royalty free so Gnome is a
>   good choice there."
>  ...
>  "Some people want gnome because it makes sense
>   license-wise (Red Hat and Sun seem to be concerned about *this*
>   particular issue)."
> [1] http://mail.gnome.org/archives/desktop-devel-list/2003-March/msg00026.html

In reviewing this message, this seems to me an attack not so much on
TrollTech in particular so much as an attack on the practice of
licensing libraries under the GPL instead of the LGPL.  At least, I
cannot understand how Miguel is constraining his argument to TrollTech,
except by way of a convenient example.  There's nothing he says on this
subject that can't be held to apply to any other case of a popular
library that is licensed under the GPL but not the LGPL.

I am not sure Debian should join in with that particular bit of
disapprobation, therefore I suggest we disregard it.

> Now, obviously I don't agree that a GPL license is a problem or imposing
> royalties on anyone (where THAT came from is anyone's guess).

As I said, he's contrasting the GPL with the LGPL.  Miguel, if I
understand him correctly, is asserting that it's a feature of GNOME that
one can make closed, proprietary applications based on its toolkit
without having to pay royalties.  The same is not true of Qt.

> But if someone like Miguel misunderstands, I don't think that Troll
> has fully removed the stigma from their actions yet.

I am unconvinced of this.  I continue to think that the stigma arose
from the original Qt licensing decision which motivated the GNOME
project in the first place.  The distinctions between the GPL and LGPL
are far more subtle from a social standpoint, since they're both almost
universally accepted as Free Software licenses.

Basically, I think Miguel is now criticizing TrollTech on strategic,
rather than moral, grounds.[1]  I could be wrong about that, but if I
am, then I perceive an ideological split between Miguel and the FSF,
which views use of the LGPL as a compromised choice, not the preferred

> > So why cannot we be big enough to admit that, if we have officially
> > declared the QPL a DFSG-free license (a declaration of which I can find
> > no evidence), that we erred, and that we recommend people follow
> > TrollTech's example and dual-license their works under the QPL and GPL
> > (with the footnote that many other DFSG-free licensing arrangements are
> > possible, and they should feel free to contact us)?
> I must admit, I'm beginning to see it your way :-)
> Do we have any idea how much and what software is licensed under QPL only,
> with no dual-license provision?

The only instance I know of at present is the Objective-CAML compiler.
A few years ago the "Zend" engine (part of Zope) was QPL'ed but I don't
know if that's still the case.  I seem to remember some talk about PHP
4.x being QPLed as well.

I do not know that dual-licensing with GPL has been rejected in any of
these cases.

[1] And, of course, is pointing out how GNOME's licensing makes it more
    suited as a foundation for proprietary apps.

G. Branden Robinson                |     The Rehnquist Court has never
Debian GNU/Linux                   |     encountered a criminal statute it
branden@debian.org                 |     did not like.
http://people.debian.org/~branden/ |     -- John Dean

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