[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Clarification about the octave-gpcl licensing conditions

* Rafael Laboissiere <rafael@debian.org> [2006-11-09 10:59]:

> (4) How would the situation be if Octave were released under the LGPL?

I investigated this issue further and discovered that R (www.r-project.org),
which is released under the GPL, faced the same problem years ago.  R
operates under the same way as Octave, with modules written as dynamically
loaded plugins.  For instance, the R binding for the GPC library that I
mentioned in my previous post is packaged as a module and distributed at


This is possible thanks to the changes made in the R licensing terms. From
the announcement of the change (2001-Feb-05):

    It came to our attention that some projects are interpreting GPL to
    mean that compiling against the header files or linking against a
    Windows import library brings the compiled code under the scope of
    GPL.  This would mean it would be impossible to distribute binary
    versions of non-GPL packages with compiled code which called entry
    points in the R executable or DLL, of which there are many on CRAN.

    We encourage packages to be distributed under Open Source conditions,
    but accept that this is not possible for some contributions.  Our
    intention is that export files and import libraries be `accessors'
    under clause 5 of the LGPL, so that in most cases no (additional)
    restrictions are imposed by compiling a package using the LGPL-ed
    components of R.

    To avoid any anomalies, the versions of the same files in R versions
    1.0.0 to 1.2.1 may also be used under LGPL or GPL.

I tend to think that such a change in Octave would be beneficial in many
aspects, including for fostering the use of Octave in academia.  I have
already written Octave bindings for the CGAL (www.cgal.org) and the
Cubpack++ (www.cs.kuleuven.ac.be/~nines/software/cubpack/) libraries, but I
am afraid of releasing them, because of the potential GPL infringement.  

The two libraries mentioned above are great and are "free" enough, besides
the infamous "non-commercial applications" clause.  I sincerely think that
the upstream authors are confused, but we must understand their motivation
for imposing this licensing constraint.

[ Please, keep Cc: to debian-legal@lists.debian.org, as my original message
  was posted there.  I hope the cross-posting is not abusive.  M-F-T set
  accordingly.  Cc:ed to Dirk Eddelbuettel, the maintainer of the R Debian
  packages.  Dirk: this is just FYI. ]


Reply to: