GPL vs. LGPL
I'm an upstream developer for swish-e. I'm trying to get some help in understanding GPL vs.
LGPL, and in plain language.
Swish-e is currently under GPL. I've been asking around and there seems to be debate about
if using swish-e (a GPL program) in a proprietary product would force the proprietary code
into GPL, or if not force into GPL, at least force their code into Open Source.
I think it's hard to define when something is a "a work based on the Program" vs. "mere
aggregation", which seems like an important, yet hard to define point.
Here's where I'm coming from:
Swish-e is a search engine. A common use would be for someone to use swish-e to index and
search their documentation. Most people write a CGI front-end script to use with Swish-e,
or use the provided example Perl CGI script that's included in the Swish-e package.
Therefore, in such a use I do not see it as a separate entity so that use would be fine for
me even if the main program was proprietary.
In a nutshell, I don't mind anyone using swish-e as long as they:
a) say they are using it (and where they got it) and include the license
b) don't claim it as their own work
c) make any bug fixes and feature additions available back to the swish-e project an users
LGPL bugs me for a number of reasons. Perhaps that's my lack of understanding of it,
First, even though it's the "lesser" GPL, it still talks a lot about "libraries". The
swish-e source code builds a library and a binary. The binary is basically a wrapper around
the library. So I see NO difference in someone using the libswish-e library vs. using the
swish-e binary program. So all the discussion of "libraries" in LGPL is just confusing in
Second, (although very unlikely for swish-e) I wouldn't want someone to take swish-e (or the
swish-e library) and add a thin wrapper and then make feature improvements and end up with a
proprietary product such that current users of Swish-e have only the proprietary version as
an upgrade choice. In other words, I don't want a situation where users would be forced to
use the proprietary version if they wanted to continue using swish-e.
So, I'm leaning toward keeping it GPL, with the understanding that use of swish-e is
typically used as an "aggregation" and therefore doesn't force other bundled code into GPL.
But it prevents someone from taking swish-e, rename it and see it as their own creation.
Is that a reasonable use of GPL? My guess that's more liberal than RMS has in mind, but
more restrictive than LGPL. Or am I way off?
Finally, would any of this effect the inclusion of swish-e in Debian?
Thanks very much,