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

Fw: NodeBox Web license

Dear all,

I'd like to share an email that convinced the developers of the NodeBox
library [0] to switch from a non-free license to GPL. I just thought that it
might be useful for future reference to non-legal experts like me, as it
attemps to clear up a common confusion about the relation of commercial, free
and proprietary software.

I myself was confused about the matter until I read the replies to VIM
author's concerns on switching to a GPL-compatible license in the debian-legal


ps. please do CC me in replies, as I'm not subscribed on the list

[0] http://nodebox.net/code/index.php/Web

----- Forwarded message from Serafeim Zanikolas <serzan@hellug.gr> -----

From: Serafeim Zanikolas <serzan@hellug.gr>
Subject: NodeBox Web license
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2008 19:45:38 +0000
To: Frederik De Bleser <frederik@pandora.be>, TomDeSmedt <tom@organisms.be>
Cc: Markos Gogoulos <mgogoulos@gmail.com>

Dear Tom and Frederik,

First of all I would like to thank you for producing the NodeBox library.
Markos (cc'ed) and me develop indywiki [1], an open-source visual browser of
wikipedia, that uses part of your NodeBox Web library.

The reason for my letter is to share with you our concerns about the licensing
terms of your library. Currently the license says "MIT for non-commercial
purposes". This is conflicting, because the MIT license basically says do as
you like (including "distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the
Software") as long as you keep the copyright note (while, on the other hand,
you prohibit commercial uses).

My understanding of your intention (please correct me if I'm wrong) is that
you want the world to use your software, but not make money from it. This is
perfectly legitimate but the term "non-commercial" is very vague. For
instance, one cannot include your program in a Linux distribution because it
is not clear whether selling a Linux distribution CD (at the cost of a CD plus
shipping) with many open-source programs and your library in it, constitutes a
commercial activity. As a result, our project also cannot be included in a
Linux CD distribution because of its dependency to your library.

If my understanding of your intention for the licensing terms is correct, then
I kindly request that you consider a dual licensing scheme [2], which will
help the world use your program, and still retain the right to charge people
that plan to make money by selling a proprietary product that's based on your
library. In such a scheme you'd have a reciprocal license (eg, the GPL) and a
proprietary payed-for license. Developers that use your library under the
terms of the GPL will be required to release their program and any
improvements made to your library under the same terms.

I am not a lawyer but please let me stress that if you release your library
under the GPL, you'll still be able to negotiate different licensing terms
with proprietary software vendors that are willing to pay you so that they
won't have to release their code under the GPL. Well-known examples of such
dual-licensing schemes are those for MySQL and Qt.

I'm looking forward to your views on the matter, and I'll be happy to provide
any further clarifications.

Dank u voor NodeBox en voor lezen dit brief,


[1] indywiki.sf.net
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_licensing

----- End forwarded message -----

Reply to: