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Re: Seeking advice about PSICOV license compatibility with GPL-2



On Tue, 30 Oct 2012 19:31:22 +0100 Laszlo Kajan wrote:

[...]
> Dear Team members!

Hello Laszlo,
I am a debian-legal regular and what follows is my own personal opinion
on the issue (from the licensing point of view).
The usual disclaimers apply (IANAL, TINLA, ...).

> 
> PSICOV [1], a protein contact prediction tool, is built with a patched version of the GPL-2 Fortran source glasso [2]:
> 
>  gfortran -O3 psicov.c glasso_psicov.f90 -lm -lgsl -lgslcblas -o psicov

This seems to create an executable binary of PSICOV, statically linked
with the modified version of glasso, and dynamically linked with the
GNU Scientific Library.

> 
> The license of PSICOV does not seem free to me [3], with restrictions on commercial use
[...]

The license of PSICOV indeed seems to include a number of definitely
non-free restrictions and really appears to be GPL-v2-incompatible and
GPL-v3-incompatible.

At the same time, glasso seems to be released under the terms of the
GNU GPL v2 (only v2, I would say, since I didn't spot any "or later
version" permission in the somewhat unclear glasso_1.7.tar.gz source
archive).

The GNU GSL is released under the terms of the GNU GPL v3 or later
(http://packages.debian.org/changelogs/pool/main/g/gsl/current/copyright).

This makes for a very odd mutually-incompatible license mix:
the GNU GPL v3 is incompatible with the GNU GPL v2, and the PSICOV
license is incompatible with both.

> 
> If I understand GPL well, this simply is not allowed: PSICOV is not allowed to restrict what is granted by glasso's license (and that does not
> limit any of the above). The question is:
> 
> * Do I see it correctly that PSICOV's license violates the GPL-2 terms of glasso?

I think that the PSICOV binary (built as described above) is legally
undistributable: its distribution appears to violate the copyright of
glasso and of the GNU Scientific Library.


The possible solutions I can think of are (in order of descending
desirability):

 (A) contact the PSICOV copyright holder(s) and persuade them to
re-license PSICOV under GPL-compatible terms (for instance under the
terms of the GNU GPL v2 or later); at the same time contact the GNU
Scientific Library copyright holder(s) and persuade them to re-license
GSL under the terms of the GNU GPL *v2* or later (rather than GPL v3 or
later)

 (B) contact the PSICOV copyright holder(s) and persuade them to
re-license PSICOV under GPL-compatible terms (for instance under the
terms of the GNU GPL v2 or later); at the same time contact the glasso
copyright holder(s) and persuade them to re-license glasso under the
terms of the GNU GPL v2 *or later* (rather than GPL v2 only)

 (C) refrain completely from distributing PSICOV


Please note that solution (A) is unlikely, since the GNU Scientific
Library, as part of the GNU Project, is supposed to promote the GNU GPL
v3 (due to the FSF propaganda).
Maybe solution (B) has more chances to be achievable...


I hope that my own personal take on this matter helps a bit.

Bye and good luck.


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