[Gajim-devel] Licence incompatibility -- GPL and OpenSSL

Yavor Doganov yavor at gnu.org
Thu Jan 29 20:29:06 CET 2009

Yann Leboulanger wrote:
> We are not linked against anything as in a C program,

Correct, you are in fact linking against C libraries (for the Gajim C
modules), but not in this case.  The GPL is not exclusively for C
programs and is not void for interpreted programs.  The mechanism via
which you use a certain facility provided by a library is important --
for example, if PyOpenSSL was not calling OpenSSL functions but simply
invoking external `openssl ...' processes there would be no problem.

But I feel I have to ellaborate, as based on the public and private
messages I received there seems to be a gross misunderstandig.

What my initial message was about: I believe that by using
python-openssl you don't explicitly grant permission to every
distributor to distribute Gajim (modified or not).  It is not a
question about Gajim being non-free (nonsense, since both Gajim and
all of its possible dependencies are free) or the FSF concerned about
this case (again nonsense, the FSF has no control whatsoever under

It is about violating the license you have chosen, because you can't
lawfully distribute something under two contradicting licenses.  Well,
theoretically you can distribute sources, as the Gajim Team is a
copyright holder, but no one else can.  Here come into play the
distros and miniscule miniature people like me, who provide unofficial
(binary and source) packages.

It is a matter of judgement: to ignore the isssue until some trouble
happens or to be safe.  It is a matter of doing the right thing, so
everyone is safe and assumes the act of distribution is explicitly
allowed by the copyright holders of the program.

> And I don't see why Gajim debian package cannot depend on another
> package in debian which is not in non-free. If openssl and
> python-openssl are in debian it means they have an opensource
> license, an I wrong?

In a (hypothetical) world where all free software licenses are
compatible, you can.  This world does not exist and is unlikely to
become reality any time soon.  Every package (GPL'ed or not) should
take this into account.  There is a list of GPL-incompatible licenses
at http://gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html but it is far from
complete.  You could also explore the minimal portion of bugs I gave
referrences to.  Packages with incompatible licenses can co-exist in a
system like Debian, when they have no relationship.

As licensing at fsf.org replied (I leave to Yann to propagate their
response, although I can do it too, if it is a problem), I need to
know (as a distributor) what your decision is.  Will you poll the
copyright holders for relicensing with the OpenSSL exception?  Will
you switch to python-gnutls?  Or...?

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