[Gajim-devel] Some licensing issues with 0.12-alpha

Yavor Doganov yavor at gnu.org
Sat Aug 16 23:28:42 CEST 2008

At Thu, 14 Aug 2008 16:43:10 +0200,
Yann Leboulanger wrote:
> Ok we'll fixe all that as described in the ticket you opened.

Thanks, it looks that you've already done that in SVN trunk (apart
from the images/sounds).

BTW, I also noticed some files of borrowed code which contained

| Released under the BSD license.

This is very ambiguous, since there are many BSD licenses, and I
believe it is not a valid copyright notice, as it fails to specify the
precise license, and fails the supposed-to-be-BSD license requirement
to include the full notice.  You might want to contact the author to
fix this problem (explained at [1]).  As you're not allowed to change
this copyright notice, you retained it as it is and put your notice
below.  That is fine, but usually, and as recommended by the excellent
SFLC publication "Maintaining Permissive-Licensed Files in a
GPL-Licensed Project" [2] it is done vice-versa.

[1] <http://gnu.org/philosophy/bsd.html>
[2] <http://www.softwarefreedom.org/resources/2007/gpl-non-gpl-collaboration.html>

Another nitpick is that the copyright notice form for GPLv3 changed
slightly, so you might take a look at this when you have spare time.

> > Not a licensing problem in a strict sense, but relicensing Gajim under
> > "GPLv3 only" (as opposed to GPLv3+) has some 
> Indeed it is a problem, but one of our previous dev don't want to
> release under GPLv3+ (some of his code is still in Gajim: optparser)

Yes, now I remember the discussion last summer.

I don't want to interfere, as apart from being a Gajim user from the
(very) beginning, contributing a translation and very few bug reports,
I don't have a say.  Basically, you have three options: 1) rewrite the
code as time goes by; 2) convince him to accept "or later"; 3) do
nothing and eventually face an unresolvable sutiation in the future,
when you *must* upgrade for some reason but you can't do it.

I don't know which one is easier, but there's a reason for the policy
any GNU package to be under (L)GPLvN or later, never "only".

The harm done to the users of the program is tremendous, since if a
program is not able to upgrade due to some reason (an author doesn't
agreee, can't be reached, or there is incorporated code under
incompatible license), under some circumstances the program can't be
distributed (at least in binary form), which effectively means that
most distros won't ship it when this happens.

So even if Vincent agrees to GPLv4 when the time comes, some other
contributor may refuse (or more likely, nobody would be able to find
him).  Copyright lasts pretty long, so there's no reason to condemn an
application to premature, painful, and stupid death just because of
some irrational stubbornness.

It doesn't automatically mean that Gajim is in danger because nobody
knows what the next license will look like, when/how its dependencies
will migrate, etc. and what the incompatibilies will entail.  It is
pretty much a speculation at this point, although it's sure that there
will be incompatibilities -- that's how copyleft works.  Any
"copylefted" program or library licensed this way bears this risk, so
if you care enough my advice is to solve the problem as soon as
possible, one way or another.

I can share my experience with the grave problem we faced with GNUstep
for "GPLv2 only" apps if you're interested, but that's most definitely
off-topic for this list.

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