[Haskell-cafe] Re: Hmm, what license to use?

David Leimbach leimy2k at gmail.com
Thu Oct 2 09:30:24 EDT 2008

On Thu, Oct 2, 2008 at 3:12 AM, Jeremy O'Donoghue <
jeremy.odonoghue at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Tue, 30 Sep 2008 21:54:34 -0400, "Stefan Monnier"
> <monnier at iro.umontreal.ca> said:
> > > I am not allowed to use such an interpretation. The (expensive and very
> > > carefully researched) legal advice used to shape the use of Open Source
> > > code at my employer has resulted in a "no LGPL under any circumstances
> > > whatsoever" policy.
> > [...]
> > > That still leaves anyone free to use LGPL if they want to, but please
> > > don't assume that it allows commercial use by all potential users.
> >
> > It *does* allow commercial use.  Your example just shows that some
> > people may decide not to take advantage of it, based not on problematic
> > restrictions but just on paranoia.
> The LGPL does not state that a "work that uses the library" may be
> distributed
> in conjunction with a closed source commercial program, although I grant
> that
> many (presumably including some who have actually consulted lawyers)
> believe
> that such an interpretation is reasonable.

I believe the LGPL states that mere aggregation doesn't indicate derivative
works.  In fact commercial video games have been distributed for linux that
used the SDL library that I used to work with myself in a former life.

So I think we should all speak to our lawyers before assuming how it can be
used.  The GPL and LGPL are needlessly difficult for mere mortals to
understand in their entirety, and as you've alluded to, many lawyers would
interpret it differently.  I suspect many different judges would too.

> However, the policy in place in my workplace was designed by lawyers
> familiar
> with contract law in multiple jurisdictions worldwide. I may not
> personally
> agree with their conclusions in every respect, but I'd be hard pressed
> to
> consider them "paranoid" - they are simply doing their job, and have
> concluded
> that the potential risk of a court somewhere in the World taking an
> aggressive
> view of the provisions of clause 5 is unacceptable.
> I guess what I really mean is that if you choose LGPL as a license, some
> people
> who would like to use it in commercial products will do so, but others
> (who would
> have chosen to use the work if differently licensed) will not. Not a
> question of
> paranoia so much as corporate appetite for license risk.

Yes, there's enough anti-GPL or GPL derived momentum in many places that I
must say that using the LGPL or GPL would be highly frowned upon at my
workplace as well.

That said, I'm a huge fan of apache, BSD, MIT and Perl's licenses :-)

> Regards
> Jeremy
> --
>  Jeremy O'Donoghue
>  jeremy.odonoghue at gmail.com
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