[Haskell-cafe] HDBC's future and request for help

John Goerzen jgoerzen at complete.org
Wed Feb 23 17:33:18 CET 2011

On 02/23/2011 05:48 AM, Chris Dornan wrote:
> The simple answer is that I need to be able to use HDBC in proprietary
> products and the LGPL makes this awkward – the most serious issue being
> that owners of the code base don’t want GNU licensed parts being linked
> into their code base. Packaging and delivery also gets complicated – (as
> I understand it) LGPL components can’t be delivered pre-linked,
> necessitating dynamic linking of the relevant libraries or supplying a
> GHC kit which the customer must use to assemble the product. This is all
> a significant drag.

Let's talk about specifics.  I imagine that in LGPL-3 that the only 
clause for objection here is 4(d)0, which requires that the proprietary 
application be conveyed in a form such that the user can relink it with 
a modified version of the library.

I would be willing to add an exemption to that requirement to the HDBC 
license, which should address that concern.

What do you think?

> Also, wouldn’t it be good to get HDBC into the Haskell Platform? – but
> we can’t do this while it is LGPL can we?

Why not?

> On the other side, what are the risks with adopting a BSD license? Is it
> that somebody could fork the library into a proprietary Haskell DB
> library that would compete with HDBC?

That's one way to put it.  It's a big complaint I have about the BSD 
license.  There are many, many examples of companies taking things 
licensed under BSD, adding features small or large, selling the result 
at profit, and neither releasing the source for the new features to the 
community nor compensating the original authors in any way.

I see a distinction between someone that just wants to *use* HDBC and 
between someone that wants to "embrace and extend" it.

I know that work I do on Linux, Haskell, etc. leads to companies such as 
Ubuntu making a profit off my work, for which they don't compensate me. 
  I also know that if they improve on it, and it's GPL, they have to 
return those improvements to the community so we can all benefit.

I am bothered by the notion of letting companies take work I've done on 
a volunteer basis, close it up, change it, never compensate me for it 
and also never release the changes to the community.  This is why I 
prefer to avoid the BSD license.

In the case of HDBC, if all somebody wants to do is use vanilla HDBC in 
their program without having to release the source to the proprietary 
program or jump through hoops to let end users replace HDBC, then I 
think that LGPL with the modification I proposed above would meet both 
their concern and mine.  The LGPL would still require them to note 
HDBC's copyright (which the BSD license requires as well), and to 
distribute source to any modifications they make *to HDBC*, but impose 
no other onerous restrictions if my reading is correct.

- John

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