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Re: GPL License question

Tom deL wrote:
> A product has piqued my interest and claims to be GPL but the disclaimers
> and general tone of their license "explanation" gives me pause.
> Any opinions of how truly "open source" this project is would be greatly
> appreciated:
>  http://easyco.com/initiative/openqm/opensource/faq.htm

Others have mentioned this project on debian-legal as well, with similar
concerns.  See the thread "Is this software really GPL?" back in
October, starting at

> In particular, passages that seem (to me at least) to want to make programs
> written for QM fall into the realm of derivative works. Seems a bit as if
> gnu would want anything compiled with gcc (or written in a flavour of
> C that is intended for gcc) to become a derivative work.
> Am I reading this the wrong way?

While their explanatory material is slightly biased towards making you
believe you need one of their Commercial QM [sic; should be Proprietary]
licenses, I think they have the correct interpretation of derivative
works.  Just as a program written against a GPLed library is (generally)
a derivative work of that library, a program written against OpenQM is
(generally) a derivative work of OpenQM, and as such, is subject to the
terms of the GPL on OpenQM.  Furthermore, they acknowledge that they
implement a superset of a particular standard, which has multiple
implementations, so if your program requires *only* the standard and
nothing specific to their program, it is not subject to the GPL.
Finally, they explicitly state that nothing in their explanation
provides any further restrictions beyond those of the GPL; see the "How
do you resolve any conflicts between what you say and what the GPL says"
section.  They even seem to be rather strong advocates of Free Software,
judging by some of their comments.  The only issue I note with their
explanatory document is that it occasionally confuses "commercial" and
"proprietary", or places "for-profit" and "Free Software" as opposing
ideas.  They do however explicitly note in one point that you are
permitted to charge for GPLed software, as long as you satisfy the
requirements of the GPL.

Their restrictions on code using their proprietary QM license are far
stricter, but then any proprietary software is too strict by definition.
 They place restrictions on the object code built against the
proprietary QM, but restrictions on derivative works are quite possible
legally; in this case, however, the restrictions are being used for a
non-free purpose, rather than a Free purpose such as a copyleft.

Overall, they seem to be just like any other company that supplies both
a Free copylefted version and a proprietary "buy this if you want to
keep your stuff secret" version of their software.

- Josh Triplett

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