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Re: Debian package for Elmer - Re: ITP: Elmer -- Finite element software for multiphysics problems



On Fri, 14 Nov 2008 08:57:40 -0500 Adam C Powell IV wrote:

[...]
> On Thu, 2008-11-13 at 23:49 +0200, Mikko Lyly wrote:
[...]
> Indeed, you're fine as far as your distribution is concerned; as far as
> I can tell no GPL code in the fem directory written by others which is
> linked to ARPACK.  As the Elmer copyright holder, you just need to abide
> by the ARPACK license, and can do whatever you want with the Elmer code.
> 
> But if Debian redistributes it, and the code changes hands, the owner of
> the Elmer copyright can in theory restrict Debian from distributing it.
[...]
> > LGPL for Elmer is unfortunately not possible at the moment, but an GLP
> > exception might be taken under consideration.
> > 
> > How would you like to see the exception be documented for being
> > compatible with Debian policies?
> 
> I'm afraid I don't have enough experience with this to give good advice
> here.  Can someone on debian-legal perhaps provide an example of a
> copyright statement which provides such an GPL exception?

Hi Adam, hi everyone else!

[I am keeping you and the other addresses in Cc:, since you asked to be
Cc:ed in the past and I suppose the other people are not subscribed to
debian-legal]
[BTW, there's no need to Cc: me, as long as debian-legal is among the
recipients]

If I understand correctly, the issue is that Elmer, which is
distributed under the terms of the GNU GPL, links against ARPACK, which
is available under GPL-incompatible and non-free terms.

The distributability issue may be solved with a GPL exception granted
from Elmer copyright holders, as long as no other purely GPL'ed code is
included in or linked with Elmer.  That is to say, *each* copyright
holder of GPL'ed code included in or linked with Elmer must agree with
the GPL exception.  Assuming that all such copyright holders agree, the
canonical example GPL linking exception is detailed at
http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLIncompatibleLibs

On the other hand, I think you (Adam) are aware that this solution
would force Elmer to be placed in the contrib Debian archive (rather
than in main), with the additional inconvenience that ARPACK has now
been removed from Debian:  http://bugs.debian.org/497900
I would recommend getting in touch with ARPACK upstream maintainers and
persuading them to relicense ARPACK under DFSG-free and GPL-compatible
terms (a 3-clause BSD license would be an optimal suggestion).

I hope this helps.
Disclaimers: IANAL, TINLA, IANADD, TINASOTODP.

-- 
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