Linked by Hadrien Grasland on Sat 8th Jan 2011 19:28 UTC, submitted by sjvn
GNU, GPL, Open Source Some people swore to me that just because the free-software General Public License (GPL) clashes with the Apple App Store's Terms of Service (ToS), didn't mean that Apple would actually pull down GPLed apps. Well, Apple just did. Remi Denis-Courmont, a Linux developer of the popular VLC media player, has just announced that Apple had pulled the popular GPLed VLC media player from its App Store.
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lemur2
Member since:
2007-02-17

I also avoid GPL software when I can. As a developer that uses a more liberal license (BSD in my case but MIT license would also do), I avoid it, for one reason, because the philosophy behind the license is exclusive. If you go to FSF's website, you will see a list of licenses that are or are not compatible with GNU licenses. You will notice that it does not phrase it as what GNU licenses are compatible with. Yes, it is a small difference, but it demonstrates an attitude against others. For a comparison, consider how software packages mention compatibility. They say they will work on an OS; they do not say an OS is compatible with them.

If I write BSD-licensed software and link it against GPL-licensed software, I have to redistribute it under the GPL license according to the FSF. The MPL or CDDL do not have this issue as long as I keep the code apart in separate files. Although they are friendlier licenses, I still prefer BSD/MIT licenses since they are closer to altruistic sharing than the others. If I shared something with somebody, I would not view it as nice to require anything back in return.


If I wrote code that I wanted everyone to share, I would not view it as nice if someone took a copy of my code and refused to share it. This can happen to my code if I license it as BSD/MIT. The GPL simply adds a stipulation beyond BSD/MIT that in effect says: "I shared this with you, you may use it however you like but if you give it to others you must share it with them just as I have shared it with you".

Sorry, but I simply can't agree with any argument that wishes to characterise that position as unreasonable in any way or failing somehow as not being "altruistic sharing".

As for your comments re linking:

LGPL is absolutely safe, as it specifically allows linking (even static linking). Most libraries are LGPL, not GPL.

Despite what the FSF say, copyright law itself allows dynamic linking ... if a later work does not actually INCLUDE any major elements of earlier works, then it does not infringe copyright law.

See:
http://www.osnews.com/permalink?456652

Edited 2011-01-10 06:28 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

vodoomoth Member since:
2010-03-30


If I wrote code that I wanted everyone to share, I would not view it as nice if someone took a copy of my code and refused to share it. This can happen to my code if I license it as BSD/MIT. The GPL simply adds a stipulation beyond BSD/MIT that in effect says: "I shared this with you, you may use it however you like but if you give it to others you must share it with them just as I have shared it with you".

I don't know how many times I have been schooled by you here but I wish there'll be many more.

On topic (and on quote so to speak), the reason that some avoid GPL (and I've written it in a previous comment) is a wording/understanding problem. Read a BSD license, you immediately know you can use it in any way you please. I'm very Java these last years so I also know the Apache license is similar in that respect. With GPL, until I read your explanations in several comments, I could not have told someone: "yes you can use GPL even in a proprietary closed-source commercial product, you just have to link to it instead of embedding it in your source code". And honestly, for those who are not native English speakers (like me), it's not that easy to understand. And sections like "Linking and derived works" of the Wikipedia article don't help in clarifying what can and cannot be done. Even your "LGPL is absolutely safe, as it specifically allows linking (even static linking). Most libraries are LGPL, not GPL." doesn't tell explicitly whether I can use or statically/dynamically link to GPL-licensed code. So in case my commercial product uses a library that, unfortunately, happens to be GPL instead of LGPL, what should I do, point the users to where they can download the library and its source code should they wish to?

Last point, I think no one is safe from bona fide errors and from some lazy-sloppy-doesn't-care-should-be-fired-rightaway developer. This is a risk I'm not sure I'd be willing to take were I to have a company like I hope.

P.S. can you explain how multi-licensing works with GPL?

Reply Parent Score: 2

spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23


On topic (and on quote so to speak), the reason that some avoid GPL (and I've written it in a previous comment) is a wording/understanding problem. Read a BSD license, you immediately know you can use it in any way you please. I'm very Java these last years so I also know the Apache license is similar in that respect. With GPL, until I read your explanations in several comments, I could not have told someone: "yes you can use GPL even in a proprietary closed-source commercial product, you just have to link to it instead of embedding it in your source code". And honestly, for those who are not native English speakers (like me), it's not that easy to understand.

The GPL has unofficial translations there:
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/translations.html
I believe linking GPL software in non compatible licensed software is not wise. Whether lemur2 is right or wrong about the legal matter (I think he is wrong), the spirit about the GPL tells that you can't link it in proprietary software (that's what the FSF says)
Linking with LGPL is safe however.
Anyway, if you are unsure, hire a lawyer. Whether you use the GPL or the BSD or whatever license, it is a good idea to ask a lawyer to review it and be sure you are able to comply. These days writing software is more dangerous than ever before.

Last point, I think no one is safe from bona fide errors and from some lazy-sloppy-doesn't-care-should-be-fired-rightaway developer. This is a risk I'm not sure I'd be willing to take were I to have a company like I hope.
You have to review any software you distribute with a lawyer if you don't want to take any risk.

P.S. can you explain how multi-licensing works with GPL?

If you write the code, you own it forever. You can license it under any license and multiple licenses forever. You can add new licenses afterward. The only problem is with code you didn't write. If the author license it under the GPL then there is no multi-licensing. It's GPL forever and there is nothing you can do about it, except asking the author to relicense his work.

Reply Parent Score: 3