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Re: License Conflict in slmodem-2.9.5

Ben Reser <ben@reser.org> writes:

> There is a license conflict that technically prohibits the distribution
> of your software.  Most of your code contains a non-copyleft but
> permissive license.  However, modem_at.c carries a GPL license.  
> This in itself is not a huge problem.  Your license is substantially
> similar to other licenses that the FSF says are GPL compatible (e.g. the
> ZPL or the Cryptix General License).
> The inclusion of the GPL licensed file triggers the requirements of
> section 2b of the GPL, which requires that the entire work be GPL'd.

This is not *quite* true.  It requires that the combined work be
distributed under the terms of the GPL, which introduces another
option for them.

> As I said before your license is compatible with the GPL so this on a
> cursory review wouldn't be a problem. 
> However, you do not include source for the dsplibs.o or the amrlibs.o
> file.  This conflicts with section 3 of the GPL that requires the source
> code be made available.

This part is accurate.

> Solutions to the problem are as follows:
> 1) License all files under the GPL and include source for the two object
> files.

Simply providing the source for the two object files would be
sufficient to comply with the GPL.  That's what GPL-compatible means.
This is the other option I mentioned: they need change no licenses,
merely include the source code.

> 2) Change the license on modem_at.c.  How you do this depends upon to
> what degree you own the copyright to this code.
>   a) You have complete copyright to the code and remove the GPL license
>      replacing it with your existing license.  Alternatively, you could
>      dual license (i.e. say you can use either your license or the GPL).
>      Both of these are essentially the same as your license is GPL
>      compatible anyway.

No.  One of these is a copyleft, the other is not.

>   b) You do not have complete copyright and adapted the code from a GPL
>      source.  In which case you are violating that persons copyright as
>      you are not including any copyright indicating that.  I suspect
>      due to the lack of the copyright notice for something like that
>      that this isn't the case.  However, if it is you would need to
>      get the permission to relicense the code under your license or
>      rewrite the code from scratch.  
> I believe this conflict is relatively easy to resolve.  I anticipate you
> can do 2a and continue on.
> I'm also CC'ing debian-legal on this as they distribute your code in the
> sl-modem-daemon package.  The package is currently in non-free.  Doing 1
> would result in it being able to move to free (unless someone else sees
> another problem).  However, until 2 is done I'd suspect Debian is going
> to have to remove the package.

I'm not a Debian Developer (yet), but thanks for the heads-up.

> Additionally, there are other files (kernel-ver.c, all the files in
> patches and scripts) which do not contain any license at all.  Appropriate
> copyright notices should be added to them.  The debian startup script
> appears to have been contributed by a 3rd party so you'd need to contact
> that individual to get the appropriate copyright notice.  And the ALSA
> patches would need to be GPL licensed in order to be applied and used.
> It may be useful to include a COPYING file that applies your license to
> any file that doesn't say otherwise within its contents.
> If you have any questions about this please let me know.  I'll be more
> than happy to spend some time with you explaining the problems and
> working with you to reach a resolution to this licensing problem.
> -- 
> Ben Reser <ben@reser.org>
> http://ben.reser.org
> "Conscience is the inner voice which warns us somebody may be looking."
> - H.L. Mencken

Brian Sniffen                                       bts@alum.mit.edu

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